A Solid Foundation: Promoting Vocational Education in the Ukrainian Construction Sector

Since March 2020, Swisscontact has been supporting the construction sector in Ukraine, in order to train qualified technicians. EdUP (Public-Private Partnership to Improved Professional Education in Ukraine) is designed to align the private-sector led vocational education system to the needs of the labour market, upgrading the training of tradespeople in the construction industry to meet EU standards.

Four years after the programme started, entire cities have been destroyed by the war with Russia. Though skilled builders are urgently needed to reconstruct the country, there is a growing dearth of young, working-age people. Therefore, it is crucial to engage anyone available to help in the reconstruction and to ensure that they are adequately trained. At the same time, it is important to adopt international training standards, in light of the EU’s heads of state having decided in 2023 to start the candidacy process for Ukraine’s eventual accession to the European Union.

Building Capacities for a Dual, Apprenticeship-Based Technical Education System

The EdUP Programme was developed under the leadership of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in partnership with Geberit Trading LLC and Sika Ukraine LLC. Swisscontact is implementing the project with the support of the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science. The dual, apprenticeship-based vocational education system is being fostered in close collaboration with the private sector, through capacity building, the provision of timely teaching curricula and methods, investment in teaching tools and schools, and the creation of support systems and a business platform. Consequently, Ukrainian vocational training institutions will be able to develop their own sustainable programmes.

During the first project phase, from 2020 to 2023, EdUP supported 25 local vocational schools in 21 districts, particularly in training sanitary installers. Trainees, masters, and teachers were given better classroom infrastructure. Technical education was broadened to include courses on finding employment, innovative technologies, and business planning, while coordination between vocational schools and the sanitary sector was enhanced. Due to the progress achieved, the programme has been expanded to include 29 training sites at which plumbers, insulators, welders, electricians, tilers, and concrete workers are trained. A key objective was to increase the percentage of female trainees.

Reconstruction for Conflict Resolution

The war in Ukraine is undermining vocational education and harming the lives of trainees, project employees, and partners. One of the vocational schools was completely destroyed by the fighting, while another was severely damaged. In the face of almost daily attacks on the country’s material infrastructure, it is practically impossible to guarantee the security of everyone involved. On the other hand, the destruction makes it absolutely clear how important it is to rebuild these capacities. In addition to rebuilding the country’s infrastructure, it will be important to leverage the private sector to rebuild the vocational education system, modernising and digitising it, so that it can help alleviate the long-term impact of the conflict.

Improved technical training in the construction sector helps to decrease outward migration, while also offering professional opportunities to returnees from abroad. Victims of war and internally displaced persons from areas currently being fought over or occupied by Russian troops can be reintegrated and will have a better chance of earning a living. Given the dearth in skilled labour, employers are willing to pay acceptable wages to their employees and provide attractive, modern workplaces.


Towards an Inclusive, Digital Work World

During the next project phase, which runs until 2027, our industrial partners and education institutes will expand the curriculum with additional courses and content. This includes new adult education modules and accreditation of previously acquired skills. In addition to the corresponding technical equipment, electronic course materials will be provided, which will prepare trainees for a broadly digital and inclusive work world. The private sector will be involved more closely in preparing and providing training content and guiding and supporting the training of technicians in the construction sector. The expanded curriculum will incorporate areas such as effective business leadership and professional guidance for graduates, to ensure synergy with the needs of the labour market.

Results by the end of 2023

  • 2444 newly enrolled trainees in the sanitary sector
  • Improved training of over 3400 sanitation installers
  • New e-learning tools at vocational schools: interactive textbooks for mobile applications in the subjects ‘pipes and supports’, ‘heating’, ‘water supply’, and ‘wastewater disposal’
  • Provision of free video tutorials and technical support by companies
  • Continuing education courses and development of 19 business plans for vocational schools provided by the Academy of Directors
  • Trainee competitions (2021 and 2023) with over 280 participants from 22 vocational schools competing for formal education in the sanitation industry
  • Continuing education series titled Innovation in Modern Plumbing Education’ offered to over 80 vocational schoolteachers and masters: 4 events, 13 training days, presenters from 18 companies
  • Classroom materials provided to 25 vocational schools since the start of the war
  • Additional sanitary provisions and materials for 10 vocational schools hosting over 700 internally displaced persons

Initiatives like EdUP are contributing to Ukraine’s physical reconstruction in a professional and practical way, elevating the nation’s economy to meet international standards. This includes the creation of an extensive digital infrastructure. Given the necessary material and financial resources, the education system can provide sufficient human resources for the rebuilding efforts and increase the appeal of the construction sector among employment seekers.

If the country continues along this path, with international help, it will find the connections to EU markets and structures over the medium term. Private companies, educational institutions and the public sector, together with partners such as Swisscontact, can set the groundwork for Ukraine’s renewal. With this support, the country can move forward beyond the conflict, with a better and more modern physical infrastructure, as well as a modern, digitised vocational education system.


“Our shared objective is to give people work, so that they can earn a decent living. After two years of the pandemic and then war, people need hope to see a better future. Project activities are very important for the economy and state. On the one hand, there are many construction sites requiring qualified workers. On the other hand, a new vocational education act is being drafted. We are riding the crest of a wave, doing important things and assisting in reforming vocational education.” 

Oleksii Rakov, Managing Director, Geberit Trading LLC, Kiev. Ukraine

The project has been mandated by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and is co-financed by Geberit Trading LLC and Sika.

Initial vocational education and training
Public Private Partnership to Improved Professional Education in Ukraine
The EdUP project, including its Scale UP initiative, is playing a crucial role in addressing the serious challenges faced by Ukraine's vocational education and training (VET) sector during wartime. The war has destroyed many VET schools and exacerbated a skills shortage that affects several sectors, despite employers' willingness to offer competitive wages and resources. EdUP aims to rebuild and improve vocational schools and break stereotypes about vocational graduates. By decentralising training and aligning it with local economic needs, the project will improve the quality of vocational training, attract additional resources, work with the private sector, and modernise education to equip Ukraine's workforce for today's demands.  
Results and Impact 2023
A sustainability strategy with a solid foundation 
Financial Statement 2023