Sierra Leone - Cameroon

GEN-UP : Upskilling for future generations
Vocational training, gender and transition to decent work through capacity development

GEN-up is an action research project aiming to better understand and act on the access of disadvantaged young women to decent work in Cameroon and Sierra Leone. The Oxford Brookes University in England's project, funded by the British Academy Youth Futures Program, was carried out in collaboration with the Don Bosco vocational centres, CERAR, the universities of UCAC in Cameroon and Njala University in Sierra Leone. The methodology was built around two innovative axes: the experimentation of a mentoring system by women community leaders (role models) and the training of young researchers directly from the communities so that they can investigate their own contexts and issues. The training of job seekers as young researchers allowed them to carry out a diagnosis of their situations, the world of employment and the barriers, particularly gender, to access decent work, thus putting them in a project situation to improve their own resilience and job search.

GEN-UP objective is to empower young women willing to pursue careers based on technical skills, through a participatory research process and mentoring by female community leaders.

The GEN-UP project had three major objectives :

  • Understand the links between TVET ‘technical and vocational training’, gender and decent work as well as the barriers to access skills and decent work
  • Propose policy recommendations to improve access to decent work
  • Provid a model of gender support and mentoring that can help challenge gender stereotypes and empower young women to access decent work

“Decent work is work… that does not give young people headaches” (TVET Trainer)


- Comparative policy analysis - interface between TVET, decent work and gender
- Interviews with stakeholders - national and community leaders
- Don Bosco mapping, observation and interviews
- Identification and training of young researchers in gender and participatory research methods
- Interviews, group discussions and visual journals conducted by young researchers
- Identification of gender mentors and implementation of community mentoring
- Participatory and arts-based approach (participatory theatre, visualization exercises, etc.)


  • 8 job seekers returning to work in Cameroon
  • 6 young people in precarious situations supported in Sierra Leone
  • 3 gender mentors trained in Cameroon
  • More than 150 interviews and life stories collected in the 2 countries
  • Series of 4 short films produced (3 in Cameroon and one in Sierra Leone)
  • 3 scientific articles published or forthcoming
  • 2 restitution and advocacy seminars in Yaoundé and Oxford


March 2020 to September 2023 (suspension due to Covid from September 2020 to September 2021)


• Up-skilling women or de-skilling patriarchy? How TVET can drive wider gender transformation and the decent work agenda in Sub-Saharan Africa (2023) International Journal of Educational Development
• Imagining the future through skills: TVET, gender and transitions towards decent employability for young women in Cameroon and Sierra Leone (2023) Journal of the British Academy, 11(s3), 121–151


Oxford Brookes University
Université Catholique d'Afrique Centrale UCAC (Cameroon)
Njala University (Sierra Leone)
Vocational training network of Don Bosco