Breaking Down Stereotypes in Male-Dominated Industries
Setting the stage for greater private sector-led approaches to workforce skills development
Life has changed for Ana Zarandia, a 22-year-old from Jikhashkari village in Zugdidi municipality. After graduating from the Construction Faculty of Georgian Technical University, she could not find work in her field. After completing a vocational training program at Construct2 College in Zestaponi, however, her fortunes improved. Now a well-paid steel fixer, Ana believes that with the right training and skills, any woman can achieve as much as her male colleagues.
“My decision to become a steel fixer still sounds strange to many of my classmates and friends,” Ana says, “but my job is key in assembling the metal frame that serves as a skeleton holding many modern buildings together.” She continues, “Many still believe that women are weaker than men – and less productive. As this prejudice is proven wrong, women are increasingly inspired to pursue jobs in construction.”
In 2022, through its Industry-led Skills Development Program, USAID supported BK Construction and its Construct2 College to conduct outreach to promote high-value employment opportunities in the sector. Since its founding in 2019, Construct2 College has worked to attract students to its vocational programs. With support from USAID, BK Construction worked to improve the perception of vocational education, raising young Georgians’ awareness of and interest in construction occupations, leading to a 20% increase in enrollment and two female students enrolling in the course for the first time ever.
“With around 1,000 employees on 11 construction sites across Georgia, BK Construction was one of the first companies that stepped into the public-private partnership model with the establishment of Construct 2 College,” notes BK Construction Founder and Managing Partner Shota Berekahvili. Established in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Science, the College offers free tuition to students through 11 apprenticeship courses, providing construction firms with highly trained workers. These courses also include paid internships at BK construction sites, leading to nearly 300 students graduating from the College and being hired by BK Construction and other firms across Georgia and abroad.
The USAID-funded Industry-led Skills Development Program works to create pathways between skills training and high-value jobs, reducing unemployment and catalyzing sustainable economic growth across Georgia. The Program incentivizes businesses in high growth industries to systematically engage in innovative skills development, and training providers to implement high-quality training programs aligned with labor market demand. To date, the Program has launched partnerships with employers working in construction, health, logistics, ICT, hospitality, services, and other high-growth industries to create innovative approaches, strengthen linkages, and showcase partnership approaches between skills training providers and high-value employment.