Vocational training initiative gives families of working children chance to improve skills and employability in Iraq

Parents and caregivers of working children from forcibly displaced and host communities attend vocational training programme to learn new skills that will enable them to generate income and pull their children out of child labour.

Article | 23 October 2022
Hevin Mala Ali
Dohuk and Zakho, Kurdistan Region of Iraq (ILO News) Hevin Mala Ali is a Syrian refugee who fled to Dohuk, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq nine years ago. She recently took part in a vocational training programme specialised in sewing.

During the month-long training, Hevin acquired many new skills; from learning how to sew to writing a CV and numerous life skills. She has also been given a sewing machine to help her set up a small home-based business, which she hopes will generate some income.

Most importantly, Hevin hopes that by providing for her family, her young son will no longer have to work.

“I will try to make use of the sewing machine, and generate an income for myself and my family, so we are not reliant on anyone,” said Hevin.

“My son will no longer have to work on the streets.”

Hevin is one of over 140 women and men - parents and caregivers of working children - who have been enrolled in vocational training programmes aimed at improving their skills and employability in efforts to reduce the pressure on their children to work.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is implementing a project to tackle the worst forms of child labour amongst IDPs, refugees, and vulnerable host communities in Iraq , with the support of the European Regional Development and Protection Programme for Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq (RDPP II).

The project, which is implemented in collaboration with the Kurdistan Save the Children and Al-Taheer Association for Development, targets vulnerable children in or at risk of child labour.

As part of the response to address the root causes of child labour, the project expanded its support to the families of those children through providing trainings which focus on sewing for women, electric installation and haircutting for men, targeting families in Dohuk and Ninewa governorates.

Khaled Mowafaq Salim
Khaled Mowafaq Salim is a resident of Dohuk and has just completed his training. “I am now a proper barber and I can work on my own, and rely on myself. I hope that in the future I will be able to set up a small business project so that my children will no longer have to work.”

The families were selected through an ILO-supported Child Labour Monitoring System which was developed to identify working children and ensure their referral to the appropriate services for support.

Through the monitoring system some of the most urgent cases of child labour were identified, with older siblings of working age and caretakers targeted through skills development and income generation activities, such as those which took place recently.

The trainings ensured that participants were given information on career guidance, Occupational Safety and Health and Social Security – key areas which the ILO focuses on to promote and mainstream Decent Work Principle, with the aim to increase their employability.

For Hevin, Khaled and the other families, setting up a small-scale business is challenging. Yet, giving the participants tool kits and machinery will help them kick-start their projects.

“I can now do this work from home and at the same time support my children and family,” said Siham Mohammed Hassan, whose children were selling water on the streets. “I hope that my children will continue to go to school and have a good future, with the support of this profession that I learned here.”