Dual Training Programs: enhancing refugees' and migrants' socio-economic inclusion

Increase local inclusion, employment opportunities and livelihoods of refugees and migrants through Dual Training Programmes in various professions in Ecuador.
Good Practices

Dual Training Programs: enhancing refugees' and migrants' socio-economic inclusion

Increase local inclusion, employment opportunities and livelihoods of refugees and migrants through Dual Training Programmes in various professions in Ecuador.

"I really thank all of you and the company for this opportunity, I feel very happy and I have learned many things, thank you from the bottom of my heart."

- Mayerlin, apprentice in the program “Retail Farmacéutico DG”

The project in brief

The project was implemented by Humboldt Zentrum and partners in Ecuador. It began in July 2022 and ended in December 2023.

Humboldt Zentrum is a social not-for-profit organization implementing multi-stakeholder training programs, based on the German education model “dual apprenticeship”, consisting of theoretical and practical training units. The training provides the apprentices with valuable knowledge in the field. After finishing their training, the apprentices receive a certificate by the German Ecuador Chamber of Commerce, enhancing their chances of finding a job.

The courses give migrants and refugees access to certification programs in the host country, enhancing their employment opportunities.

The main goal of our dual training programs is to enhance migrants’ and refugees’ possibilities to develop themselves professionally, contributing to their integration and well-being.

We want to achieve this by working in multi-partner-networks to gain better access to the most vulnerable groups of migrants and refugees.

We aim to facilitate high quality educational programmes to increase migrants’ and refugees’ ability to generate income and therefore achieve economic growth and development.

Our aim is to include all ages and genders. Our programs involving refugees and migrant beneficiaries have full scholarships and are promoted in partnership with NGOs that work in this area. Participation of women is especially encouraged, resulting in a high rate of female participation.

Main activities of the Good Practice

Our programmes target the most vulnerable refugees who either cannot work or engage in informal economic activities, to increase their access to livelihood opportunities and foster social and economic inclusion. The programmes are designed in collaboration with our partners, based on the German training program profiles, following their curriculum with a contextualized take depending on the demand of the Ecuadorian job market.

Before the beginning of classes and practical training, the instructors and tutors that accompany the apprentices during their practical training in the company, are trained and certified in a training workshop of the German-Ecuadorian Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

The apprentices receive classes and do practical training simultaneously in one of the companies that are part of our alliances. This methodology lets them apply their knowledge in a direct and practical manner. Depending on the field of work, the lessons can be virtual or take place in a classroom. At the end of the program, apprentices must take an exam and if they approve, they receive a certification of completion.

To monitor the trainees' performance in their classes and practical training, meetings are held with the training companies and our partners throughout the programme. In order to follow up on the apprentices´ satisfaction with the programme, we make periodical surveys and visits to the apprentices at their place of practice. All situations and activities are shared with our focal points for proper follow-up and evaluation. Lessons learnt are considered for the design and implementation of future programmes.

A man and woman standing in a shop, talking and smiling, the man is holding some papers they seem to be discussing

© Humbolt Zentrum / UNHCR

"One learns by doing. What we learn in class, we apply in the companies. And by getting to know the company's departments, we learn a lot."

- Lenín Barreto, apprentice in the program “Sales Specialist Manager”

Elements which helped facilitate the implementation of the good practice

The local partnerships we developed are key in the implementation of the program. This program is an example of successful local strategies through firm partnerships - in our case with HIAS, AVSI and UNHCR. Partnerships like these strengthen local organisations and local cooperation with each other; in our case they provide us with valuable knowledge about the local context and the necessary financial resources to execute the project.

At our request, the Ecuadorian Ministry of Labour amended the labour law to include dual training programmes and the Technical Productive Baccalaeureate (Bachillerato Técnico Productivo) as official training, which are approved by the Ministry.

This gives our apprentices, especially migrants and refugees, the opportunity to obtain a recognized qualification, even more so if they were unable to take their own professional documents with them while fleeing their country of origin or if their foreign training titles were not equally recognised in the host country.

Partners involved

What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?


In some programs, we noticed that the number of participants declined over the course of the program. Thanks to our close monitoring and communication with the apprentices, we found that they were very satisfied with the program and would like to continue taking part but indicated that reasons for them dropping out were:

  • Schedules conflicts with other duties and family obligations
  • Transportation to the company was long or difficult to reach.
  • Some must return to their home country because of unforeseen events or family emergencies.

Some of those who withdrew prior to the start of the program indicated that they did not understand the timetable, schedules, and the commitment to attend when they enrolled. This made it difficult to start the program as the people who replaced their slot had missed some classes required for effective training.

How they were overcome

Those who dropped out of the process were immediately communicated to our partners and replacements were sought in a direct manner to ensure that the classes were filled.

For those who missed one or several classes, we followed up closely to talk to them and find out if they were having difficulties and seeing how we could help them.

In order to lower the number of dropouts prior to the start of the program, the selection process was reinforced with a pre-screening. This was done through general meetings to explain the details of the program to the applicants, which requires more time invested by both teams for the phase prior to the start of classes. These meetings emphasised the communication of requirements, commitments, and selection criteria for program participants.

Two women baking - they have bowls, a mixer, cupcake trays and tins in front of them

© Humbolt Zentrum / UNHCR

"The program is excellent, something beyond the ordinary. How good it feels to seek excellence both professionally and personally and this makes us see things from another perspective with professionalism and the best way to train ourselves while we work and generate income ... many thanks to those who made possible this project that we are part of"

- Jhon Baque, apprentice in the programme "Business Logistics for Professional Drivers"

Results of the Good Practice

  • 173 apprentices took part in skills building and now count with a recognised training certificate.
  • 173 apprentices received high quality education by certified instructors.
  • 173 apprentices gained work experience and improved their position on the labour market.
  • 173 apprentices were contracted by their training company after finishing the program.
  • Women are the majority of participating apprentices which enhances their economic autonomy and reduces SGBV rates.

In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?

Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries

We also want to ease the pressure on Ecuador as a host country because the labour market is mostly saturated and state aid programmes offering certification programmes are limited. Our programmes fill an important gap by providing programmes of help for self-help creating the opportunity for our apprentices to gain a foothold in the labour market. By doing this, we seek to contribute to economic growth and development.

Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance

The main goal of our dual training programs is to enhance the participating migrants´ and refugees´ agency and self-reliance to develop themselves professionally. By providing them with training and a certificate, we help them expand their professional opportunities, whether they want to find a job or become self-employed. Through this, we contribute to the economic inclusion of refugees and migrants in Ecuador, as well as Ecuadorians looking to develop themselves professionally. As a local organisation that works in multi-partner-programmes, we count with the experience and have direct contact with refugee and migrant communities.

Next steps

The latest program ends in December of 2023 but further programs are planned for 2024 because Ecuador´s current economy is affected by high crime rates, resulting from increasing drug trafficking that led to decreasing labour demand.

Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?

To scale up our programs to reach more migrants and refugees and be able to expand our offer to other provinces and cities, we would need more funding from international organizations and the collaboration with other local NGOs and CSOs in Ecuador working with migrants, refugees or displaced persons to expand collaboration.

Submitted by

Franziska Naarmann, Coordinadora de Calidad del Sistema Dual, Humboldt Zentrum, [email protected]; Angela Peñaherrera, Directora de Planificación, Monitoreo y Calidad, Humboldt Zentrum, [email protected]

Contact the project

[email protected]