In collaboration with the government and international agencies, in 2002 FEDES initiated a Vocational Training School program whereby young people from underprivileged backgrounds and/or high-risk youth are taught trades. Later, courses were added for older adults from the same demographic. In addition to receiving an educational scholarship and on-the-job training, students receive help with writing a resume, and applying for and getting a job in their field of training. Students also receive their lunch and transportation as part of the program.
The FEDES Vocational Training facility presently trains up to 300 students per semester, with plans to expand. Local social services assist FEDES in determining individuals' eligibility for the program. Some of the principle criteria evaluated includes inability of the potential student's family to pay for his or her education, professional inclination of the candidate, and their desire to study and pursue a given profession in order to be able to support themselves and their family.
FEDES has developed over 30 vocational training courses, with each of the curriculums certified by the ISO, nationally and internationally. Courses include various aspects of culinary arts and food processing technologies, local and international cuisine, pastries and confectionaries, bartending and dining services, clothes tailoring and domestic design, nursing and elder care, computer IT and networking, administrative assistant training, telemarketing and customer service, pre-school childcare, and industrial cleaning. Earlier courses included carpentry and house building, furniture making, plumbing (both industrial and home) and electrical engineering.
Each of the courses run in excess of three months of intensive skill training, two and a half months of which is the actual vocational training with an additional two weeks of working on developing personal skills such as proper attire, body hygiene, resume writing, public speaking, and how to apply for a job.
At the end of skill training they also receive a two week computer course geared to their particular vocation. (For example, nursing aides learn the programs that they will need to chart a patient’s pharmaceutical needs, etc.) Following the completion of the three month course, FEDES arranges paid internships for graduates so they can have actual hands-on practice with companies, and/or qualifying for further education to achieve their career goals. During this hands-on training period, FEDES administers government sponsored travel costs for the students and monitors their progress.
If the student wishes to go on to further training at a University, FEDES has established contacts with various educational facilities so the student gets full credit for the training received while enrolled in the FEDES course. Ultimately the goal is that the program graduates are able to find employment. A minimum of 80% acquire immediate employment through the FEDES network of partners, including multinational companies and five-star hotels, etc.
In addition to acquiring a vocational skill, students learn other valuable skills such as interpersonal communication, leadership, efficiency and time management, etiquette, as well as English-language proficiency. The training enables the students to develop a proactive attitude and positive mindset.
Towards the end of their vocational course, each student is provided with this personal development and marketing training in order to prepare them for the job market and/or to be self-employed. In cooperation with local companies, FEDES assists with job placement after students complete their training. FEDES hopes to be able to eventually provide loans to graduates who want to start small businesses.
FEDES also hosts special Vocational Training courses for: