Specialized workforce training in the metal processing and textile sectors empowers women to excel in occupations traditionally held by men

Many people in Bosnia and Herzegovina have experienced unemployment. At the same time, many companies struggle to find workers with the technical skills and qualifications needed to fill open jobs, hindering their ability to remain competitive. One way that companies throughout the country have worked to combat this issue is by offering in-demand training to jobseekers to improve their skillsets and increase their employability.

Sarah Haskić, newly employed welder

The Chamber of Economy of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (COE FBiH) designed a project to help strengthen metal processing and textile companies to become more competitive in their respective industries. COE FBiH hoped to accomplish this goal by establishing training centers where it could help jobseekers and workers to acquire new skills and further develop their sector-specific skillsets, in line with local market demand. This project was supported by the USAID WHAM Activity through a grant.

Signed in August 2021, the objective of this grant was to help individuals interested in working in the metal processing and textile sectors gain the specialized skills needed to find employment. The project was specifically designed to support unemployed people, especially young people and women, to find meaningful jobs following completion of the training program.

Vesna Kurtagić, newly employed welder

“Apart from meeting the needs of the textile and metal processing sectors for skilled labor, the project has further contributed to the economic empowerment of women and greater gender equality in the labor market,” said Anela Karahasan, one of the managers of COE FBiH.

Sarah Haskić, a training program participant, was extremely satisfied with her new qualifications and skills as a professional welder. The program conveyed that not only can women retrain for in-demand and well-paid occupations that are traditionally held by men, but that women can excel in these roles. Vesna Kurtagić, a mother of four, successfully completed the program and became a qualified welder. After ten years without a job, she found meaningful employment. She said, “It is wonderful to be employed, but more important is the self-confidence that employment brings me, which significantly affects my children as well. There is much more I can do for them now.”

Training participants with newly acquired diplomas

At the end of the project, Armin Hodžić, the director of COE FBiH, was very impressed with the end results, emphasizing that 60 participants completed the training, 32 (53.3%) of which secured jobs immediately after. Of the 60 trainees, 37 (61.7%) were young people, 35 (58.3%) were women, and 4 (6.7%) were persons with disabilities.



USAID’s Workforce and Higher Access to Markets Markets Activity (USAID WHAM) is a five-year program that began in June 2017. USAID WHAM is stimulating job creation by advancing BiH trade integration with and expansion into the European Union and regional markets. The focus and priority of this Activity are high-growth, exporting, and export-ready companies from the metal, wood, textile/leather, and ICT sectors. The activity is being implemented by the International Executive Service Corps (IESC), in cooperation with its local partner ENOVA.

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