Beyond stereotypes: A Young Man’s Journey into Plumbing and Technology

Initial vocational education and training
The second phase  of the Public-Private Partnership to Improved Plumbing Education (EdUP) project, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), implemented by Swisscontact, and supported by private contributions from Geberit, demonstrated a dynamic collaboration that amplified the impact of plumbing education in Ukraine. 

In April and May 2023, 270 young professional plumbers from 18 project partner institutions of vocational education, participated in a plumbing competition to showcase the value of plumbing and the participants’ skills and passion for their profession.

The Austrian company Herz hosted the competition winners in Velichka, Poland as well as in Vienna and Pinkafeld, Austria. During their visit, the young plumbers had the opportunity to see the cutting-edge innovations in plumbing and the assembly of heating system fittings.

Yevhen Bech, plumber and competition winner at work

Yevhen Bech is a 17-year-old student attending a local professional lyceum and is one of the competition winners and visitors to Herz plants. His journey into the world of plumbing was far from ordinary, and it was a story filled with unpredictability, resilience, and dreams of a brighter future.

Yevhen had initially dreamt of becoming a forester, but circumstances led him down a different path. His father understood the value of practical skills and encouraged Yevhen to explore plumbing as a career choice. Income and job opportunities were also significant factors in this decision, as plumbers’s skills constantly remain in demand.

Attending a local school made the choice even more appealing. Yevhen could easily access his education and, in time, develop the skills he needed to become a successful plumber. However, Yevhen's pursuit of his dreams was overshadowed by the harsh realities of war.

Launch of the third phase of Public-Private Partnership to Improved Professional Education (EdUP)

At Swisscontact, we believe that education is the bedrock of progress, and through the EdUP project's third phase, our organization’s collaboration with SDC, Geberit, and Sika continues to showcase how strategic partnerships can create sustainable transformation for communities in need.

Geberit and Sika's private contributions represent their commitment to creating tangible, lasting impact in the communities they serve. Their collective efforts illuminate the potential of collaborative initiatives in driving socio-economic progress.

The third phase of the project which began in July 2023 is a clear example of a shared commitment to creating impact beyond conventional boundaries. With an expanded focus on plumbing education, construction and infrastructure, this collaboration will drive sustainable socio-economic development and empowerment across Ukraine.

Integrating traditional skills with tech savviness

Despite the challenges he faced, Yevhen remained determined to pursue his dreams. He began practicing his plumbing skills at home, within the confines of his family. But his dreams expand beyond plumbing. While traveling in Austria and Poland, Yevhen discovered the world of computer science and programming that can be applied to plumbing. The exposure to the academic aspect and innovation, and the importance of technical skills, left a profound impact on him. Plumbing was no longer just about physical strength but required intelligence and technical skills.

With a newfound ambition, Yevhen aspires to combine his plumbing skills with computer science in the future. He saw the need for a holistic approach to plumbing, where IT knowledge could revolutionize the industry. The competition he participated in not only showcased his plumbing skills but also opened his eyes to the ever-evolving world of plumbing, far removed from the stereotypes of a "dirty" profession. He had seen in Austria how technological advancements were transforming the plumbing industry. His journey reminded him that with the right blend of skills, dedication, and hope, one could truly shape their own destiny and contribute to a brighter future, both for themselves and their country.

Yevhen's story is a testament to the resilience and determination of the human spirit, as well as a highlight of the synergy and effectiveness of the partnership with the private sector.

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.