May 8, 2008 —
Students and guests pack the auditorium for a graduation ceremony at the Vocational-Technical School in the IIC on May 4. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Tami Hillis)
FOB KALSU, Iraq (May 9, 2008) – About 200 students from the vocational-technical school in the Iskandariyah Industrial Complex graduated May 4 among friends and family members.
“I’d like to say congratulations to the vo-tech director and his staff but most of all to the students of this graduating class,” said Lt. Col. Jeff McKone, Multi-National Division – Center Iskandariyah Industrial Complex liaison, Team Iskan officer in charge. “It is an honor to be a part of the success in the rebuilding of the Iskandariyah vo-tech.”
Graduates received a certificate of training along with a gift — sewing machine or computer repair kit — to help them get started in the business world.
In May 2007, only 32 students were enrolled at the technical school, but now there are more than 700, said Naseer Abdul Jabar, vo-tech director. He said by June they’re hoping to have 1,000 students enrolled per quarter.
The industrial complex is located in the northern Babil province, about 50 km south of Baghdad, and houses a cluster of state-owned factories and the vo-tech school, which is open to Iraqis wanting to learn job skills and trades.
Some of the classes held there include computers, electrical engineering, plumbing, sewing, carpentry, air conditioning, mechanical, auto mechanics, machining, milling and grinding.
“Now that you have the skills you need, you will be able to serve this country and you will help the economy grow,” said Sabah al-Khafaji, chief of the Mussayib council.
The IIC is a business incubator similar to the Job Corps program in the United States, dedicated to young start-up businesses. It has the space required for manufacturing, research and development and administration for young and established enterprises. At the same time, the vo-tech school is intended to produce a steady stream of qualified workers for the industries and business, providing a further base of economic stability in the region.