Upskilling returning migrant women for domestic employment

A large number of women are returning to Ethiopia after working abroad for several years. According to the United Nations, Ethiopia had more than 15,000 female return migrants between April 2020 and April 2021, and this number continues to grow.

While happily reunited with their families, the women often struggle to find work when they return home. 32-year-old Aynalem is one of these women.

Aynalem was separated from her family and child for eight years while she worked as a domestic worker in the United Arab Emirates to support her family. When she returned to Ethiopia in 2017, she struggled to find work and remained unemployed for four years until she benefitted from a new skills initiative supported by LIWAY.


Piloting integration of short-term skills training curricula at TVETs

LIWAY piloted a market-based intervention in partnership with the Development Expertise Centre (DEC) to develop and deliver short-term skills training based on needs identified during a market assessment. Six comprehensive short-term vocational and soft skills training curricula were developed in garment/apparel production, leather production, textiles, furniture making, metal work, and food preparation. These included teachers’ teaching and learning materials.

Two Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions participated in the pilot. The aim was to help address the widening gap between the demand for certain skills in the market and the supply of those skills through TVET training. Partnerships were also developed between TVET institutions and employers to increase employment opportunities for women and youth.


Realising the benefits of vocational and soft skills training

Aynalem was one of 1,001 women and youth who received vocational and soft skills training during the intervention pilot period.  At Misrak Polytechnic College, she learned pattern making and sewing of shirts and dresses. She also received practical training in garment production at Bole Lemi Industrial Park, which was facilitated through the programme.

Aynalem is now self-employed and produces cultural clothes and bed sheets. She rented a small shop from space available through the government for small and medium enterprises and was able to take a loan from Addis Capital to buy two sewing machines. She sells her products at her shop, as well as through regular bazaar events. During the high vending season, she earns an average of 10,000 ETB and is able to hire two employees on a contract basis.

Similar to Aynalem, most returning migrant women tend to have basic levels of education and limited skills for employment. With the growing national unemployment rate and traditional humanitarian programme focus on other areas, there has been minimal attention on returning migrants. As a result, when they return to Ethiopia, they often remain disconnected from the employment market for long periods of time.

Not all the participants in the pilot were returning migrants like Aynalem. But her story demonstrates how women like her can benefit from accessible short-term training programmes to develop relevant skills that enable them to generate income, and even create employment opportunities for others.

Recognising the benefits, LIWAY has introduced the curricula to other public TVET colleges. To date, nine additional colleges have integrated the short-term skills curricula into their teaching systems.



LIWAY´s work in the skills system focuses on improving skills development to unlock wage and self-employment opportunities for women and youth. Within this system, LIWAY aims to improve the quality of trainers, curricula, and content, as well as improve marketing and institutional strength of TVETs and coordination among stakeholders. The skills system is led by Save the Children International.