The Swedish Transport Academy, officially inaugurated this week in Erbil, will help Iraq’s unemployed and young people acquire the new industrial skills critical for the reconstruction and recovery of the country`s economy.
The Academy, which will supply much-needed skilled mechanics to the Iraqi sectors of logistics, manufacturing, and industrial maintenance of heavy machinery such as trucks, engines and agricultural equipment, was established by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Scania, a leading manufacturer of trucks, buses and engines.
The project is the fruit of an ongoing Swedish public-private partnership agreement to help young Iraqis develop new skills and find jobs. Training is offered not only in maintaining and operating equipment such as modern fleets of trucks, but also in languages, IT and business management.
Unemployment remains a serious problem in Iraq, especially for young people, while the lack of skilled Iraqi labour is stalling the development of industry and the economy as a whole.
“This academy is a first of its kind in Iraq and the region,” said Asoos Nabeel Abdulla, the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs in the Kurdistan Regional Government. “This public-private partnership will serve the needs of hundreds of youth by providing them with the necessary skills to help themselves and the country.”
Chakib Jenane, Chief of UNIDO’s Agro-Industries Technology Unit, added that UNIDO was proud of delivering this new vocational training facility. “This would not be possible without significant inputs from our partners at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), and the expert input of Scania. I would like to thank the government of Sweden for its generous contribution to this project,” he said.
The inauguration of the Academy was also attended by Sweden’s Minister of Trade, Ewa Björling, the Govenor of Erbil, Nawzad Hadi, and the Minister of Trade and Industry, Sinan Chalabi.
The first round of training started on 2 April, with some 160 students attending the three-month mechanical training courses. The Academy is aiming for a target of nearly 400 graduates each year.
The project is funded by SIDA, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and Scania