"Pascal the unstoppable" – a young man's journey to becoming a carpenter

Initial vocational education and training
"Pascal the unstoppable" is what his friends call him. The eldest of six siblings is gradually working towards his dream of becoming a professional carpenter. Seemingly shy, Pascal Ndereyimana has seized every opportunity with determination. From idle youth to self-sufficient young man and candidate for the first edition of the Umwuga Award, Pascal shares his path to the carpentry profession.

Pascal is a young man in his twenties, motivated to earn a living and write his own story by way of the carpentry trade. In 2017, a friend told him about Swisscontact's initial vocational training course as part of the PROMOST project, and he decided to go for it. The project financed by the Swiss Development Cooperation supports the Government of Burundi to improve access and the quality of its Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system.

The course consisted of three months of practical training at the Centre Artisanale de Kayanza in the north of the country and six months of coaching. As soon as Pascal took his first steps in the workshop at the craft centre, everyone was surprised by the young man's qualities:

"Pascal is eager to learn new things, he's diligent and has a bright future ahead of him."
Sylvestre NSENGIYUMVA, manager of the Centre Artisanale de Kayanza
Pascal (in the red t-shirt) learning first-hand about woodworking

Pascal's dream is to become the best carpenter in Kayanza Province

The training provided through PROMOST opened the door for this talented young man. Since then, Pascal's greatest dream has been to become one of the best carpenters in Kayanza Province. In 2023, he signed up as a candidate for the Umwuga Awards, a competition supported by Swisscontact and the Belgian Development Agency Enabel. The competitions allows young people who have completed vocational training to showcase their industry skills.

" When I saw the announcement of the Umwuga Awards competition, I said to myself that this is an opportunity to prove to the whole world that I am one of the best in this field."
Pascal Ndereyimana 
Coaches at the Muramvya vocational training centre

After completing theoretical and practical tests, Pascal came first, outperforming 33 candidates, and was selected to represent Kayanza province in the competition.

In September this year, we met Pascal in the workshop of David, his idol and owner of one of the best carpentry workshops in Kayanza. It was during one of the coaching sessions, which consisted of helping the candidates prepare for the competition. The candidates create test projects on 70% of the material for the final test, as a prelude to the final ring of the Umwuga Awards competition.

"I'm fine-tuning the final details of how to assemble a table after correct wood shaving, with the aim of giving it my all for the next deadline. This job is my life and it's the details that will count in the next competition."
Pascal Ndereyimana 

Pascal already earns his living as a joiner, helping to improve the family's income. He currently earns at least CHF 64 a month and helps pay for his brothers' schooling. Pascal is determined to succeed. "He who wants, can" is his coach David's motto.

Will he win the Umwuga Awards competition? We wish him the best either way. What is certain is that Pascal is a role model for many young people. His friends are also determined to continue their vocational training so that they have better chances of entering the job market.

Supporting young people through market-oriented vocational training

Through the promotion of market-oriented vocational training, Swisscontact supports the development of guidance, training and professional integration for young people in the hotel and craft sectors, while helping to improve the performance of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training system in collaboration with the authorities responsible for vocational training, and private sector players.

Burundi, Rwanda, DR Congo
Initial vocational education and training
Promoting Market Oriented Skills Training and Employment Creation in the Great Lakes Region
The project supports the Governments of Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to improve access, quality and relevance of their respective Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) systems. This addresses the key development challenge of unemployment and underemployment brought about by the low quality of skills...