July 2014

Centro Certificatore Dante
Alighieri Cochabamba

In Cochabamba, new steps in education from a variety of different organizations are helping Bolivians learn new languages, culture, and skills for them to flourish in the job market, especially in times of economic recession.

By: Clotilde Leguevaques
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Coutances - France

Textile workshop - They teach how to use sewing machines
Photo: Clotilde Leguevaques

The Centre Dante Alighieri is an organization that promotes different functions. This Italian center was created to promote cultural integration, language, art, and style from Italy. One of its most important aims is the professional insertion. They want to help women and children to find a job in the textiles industry, with the help of a traineeship.

Verina Pedretti is responsible for this organization. She was an accountant from Milan in Italy. Captivated by the world of couture, (the creation of exclusive custom fitted clothing), she decided to make her passion her job. Moreover, Verina followed the example of her parents. “I have always seen them helping others,” she explains. She came to La Paz 27 years ago with her Bolivian husband, before arriving in Cochabamba in 2008. Afterwards, she took part in the Centre to support people in need. Her team is composed of four teachers who propose a traineeship in textiles. Gilber Choaue Challapa is one of them. “I work here because I have a good experience with textiles and I really like teaching,” explains the 23 year-old. Professionals of the organization help around 50 women or young people to find a job in a world of economic crisis.

Universities are useless in the economic market if they do not lead to any job offers

Professor at the cutting table explains how to do the job
Photo: Clotilde Leguevaques

In fact, job searching can be a huge issue for young people at the end of their studies. Universities propose several courses but it is quite hard to be employed after graduating. “Universities are useless in the economic market if they do not lead to any job offers,” deplores Verina. Many women cannot find a job because they did not receive a high education and thus have no diploma. That is why the Centre proposes practical and theoretical training to fight unemployment.

El Centro Italiano de Formación offers different kinds of training for women and the young depending on their needs. Most members interested in Couture have heard about this association thanks to the city of Cochabamba, which supports it. The economic management of Cochabamba (Dirección de Desarrollo Económico de Cochabamba) recognizes and approves the diploma given at the end of the training. However, not everybody has access to this. Members of the staff choose from a large selection those who will participate. “We give priority to motivated people in real need as the training is free for them,” explains Verina.

Student threading an industrial overlock
Photo: Clotilde Leguevaques

The center develops several partnerships with local textile companies like Zebra Jeans, Julyo’ and D! Fashion Center

Workshop classes
Photo: Clotilde Leguevaques

The Centre develops several partnerships with local textile companies like Zebra Jeans, Julyo’s and D! Fashion Center. Factories tell the centre what they need and teachers adapt the training depending on the skills required. When members receive their certificate they are employed in one of the fourteen textile companies associated with El Centro Certificatore Plida Dante Alighieri. During job applications, the manager attempts to satisfy everyone depending on the location of their house, and their personal profile.

Women study for four months at three hours per day. “I have always liked Couture, but here I can learn how to make clothes,” remarks Carlida, who shows with pride her recently made clothes. Ladies just take hands-on classes while young people take both hands-on and theoretical classes. Students learn mathematics, literature, and other general subjects. The training module of the entrepreneurial spirit and the training module on employability skills and citizenship (módulo de formación en competencias de empleabilidad) are examples of classes currently available. Their training is more intensive. Students work every day for one year. However, for both women and the young, Verina wants to teach the Italian methodology, which is fortunately very logical. she uses her love of the Italian culture to transmit it to students through her classes of language and technique. The Centre has a very good reputation. “I decided to study here because teaching is known to be excellent in this Centre,” confirms Aracel, who works hard to find a job. Finally, at the end of each training session, the staff recruit new pupils.

All professionals in the organization give their time to teach and support members of the association. Young unemployed people are an important issue and women need to work to support their family. The main aim of the Centre is to reduce unemployment by offering complete training and a contract with textiles companies. They hope to extend this organization in La Paz. “But nothing is concrete; we are in the process of negotiating and we do not know if it will be possible yet,” explains Verina. The more they help, the more they feel satisfied with their work.

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