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Iskandariyah vocational school benefits residents

By Kerensa Hardy Sgt. 1st Class, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division

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Dr. Nassir Abbas, director of the Iskandariyah vocational school, speaks to Mahmudiyah Qada Education director general, Dr. Kais, Mahmudiyah Council chairman, Najim Mahdi al Dulaymi, and Sheik Somar Abdul Amir Al Anbari in a women’s sewing class during a tour of the Iskandariyah vocational school, March 2.
Dr. Nassir Abbas, director of the Iskandariyah vocational school, speaks to Mahmudiyah Qada Education Director General, Dr. Kais, Mahmudiyah Council chairman, Najim Mahdi al Dulaymi, and Sheik Somar Abdul Amir Al Anbari in a women’s sewing class during a tour of the Iskandariyah vocational school, March 2.

March 6, 2008 — CAMP STRIKER, Iraq (March 4, 2008) — More than a dozen representatives from the Mahmudiyah Qada toured the Iskandariyah vocational school March 2 to see how local residents may benefit from it.

The Mahmudiyah Qada council chairman and education director general, an area representative, the Yusufiyah nahia chairman and nine senior sheiks from throughout the qada attended. The group toured the vocational school, adjacent the Iskandariyah Industrial Complex.

Approximately 22 programs are offered through the school, said Dr. Nassir Abbas, the school director. Classes include welding, sewing, computer skills and maintenance, generator and air-conditioning repair and electrical engineering.

The vocational school opened in 1972. Almost 500 students are currently enrolled.

“We are hoping in April to have 850 and in May more than 1,000,” Abbas said.

The end goal of the school is generating employment, said Lt. Col. Robert Bobinski, deputy team leader for the embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team attached to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

“That means sustainable employment, not part-time jobs; full-time jobs that pay money,” Bobinski said.

The short-term goal is to bring students from the Mahmudiyah Qada to the school to teach them skills. Mid-term is to provide opportunities for the students to hone skills, perhaps by on-the-job-training.

“Long-term, as demand for employees grows, we will work with the government of Iraq to make more (vocational schools),” Bobinski said. That way, there will be a pipeline of trained employees with sustainable, marketable skills, he said.

The leaders toured halls jam-packed with students walking to class and entered classrooms filled to capacity with Iraqis learning to sew, weld and repair generators and computers among other technical skills. They took copious notes, spoke to instructors and asked the director numerous questions about how the school could benefit the Mahmudiyah Qada.

“Whatever you learn here, you can bring back to your community and make other jobs,” Bobinski said. “There is universal honor in taking care of your family.”

Representatives from the Mahmudiyah region agreed to submit applications for 150 Sons of Iraq to begin training in April.

“We will definitely send our people here,” said Sheik Hattim Muhsin ‘Alwan al-Mehowi, from Yusufiyah. Asked which programs would be best suited for the citizens in his area, he said, “All of them.”