In Timor-Leste, approximately three in ten people lack clean water and over half the population has no access to a toilet. The private sector faces difficulties including a low-skilled workforce and poor infrastructure, whilst women face significant barriers accessing education and employment.
With support through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), EWB Australia’s locally-led Professional Skills Development program is providing internships and workplace skills training for Timorese engineering and technical students and professionals.
This program bridges access to fulltime employment and strengthens the capability of the national engineering sector to address local development needs, including engineering for sanitation in challenging environments.
Professional skills relevant to the workplace are essential. EWB Australia’s Engineering Design Challenges are run in partnership with local universities, teaching students how to apply human- centred design thinking and develop practical solutions for real challenges.
In partnership with Timor-Leste’s National Centre for Employment and Professional Training (CNEFP), a Leadership in Project Management course has been developed, which will meet local skill requirements and open a new revenue stream for the centre.
Securing employment without relevant professional experience is difficult for most graduates, so the program also runs internships with organisations including WaterAid and Plan International. Graduates of these internships have successfully secured full time professional employment.
In a country where fewer than 30% of the engineering sector is female, tackling gender barriers to improve the representation of women is an important point of difference for the program, which facilitates the Women in Engineering Group (Feto Enjiñeira). This group has provided over 30 women with access to training and mentoring as well as networking, internship and scholarship opportunities.
To date, this program has enabled access to industry relevant training and internships for over 600 students and technical professionals, and there are plans to expand to the Pacific region.