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FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHARANA, Afghanistan – Building infrastructure in Afghanistan is a huge task, one which will provide decades of employment for trained engineers. At least that’s the hope of 146 new graduates of the Sharana Vertical Engineering Skills Development Workshop from Paktika Province.
With the essential engineering skills each graduate acquired during the workshop, their hopes for employment are rising as high as the buildings they’ve been trained to build, said Provincial Governor Moheebullah Samim, the keynote speaker at the July 5 ceremony and job fair.
The job fair followed the graduation ceremony at the Paktika Center for Education Excellence and was sponsored by the Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team, said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Robert Gerstemeier, PRT executive officer, from Cincinnati.
Local contractors attended to discuss employment opportunities and the specialties of their respective companies with the graduates. Personnel from the 401st Army Field Support Brigade, the logistics task force responsible for forward operating base construction, also discussed employment opportunities on FOB Sharana, said Gerstemeier.
The job fair created opportunities for the contractors and graduates to talk and share information. Contractors spoke to the graduates about their company backgrounds and what kind of workers they desire, said Gerstemeier.
Members of the Paktika PRT provided the contactors with flyers that detailed the process of how to obtain a job with the PRT and how to properly submit a company fact sheet so they could be added to the list of approved bidders.
The PRT extends a hiring preference to contractors who hire VESDW graduates, and also may hire the graduates directly for small projects, said Gerstemeier.
The event was the third job fair the PRT conducted, and the most heavily attended. It was also the first job fair with representation from FOB employers, as well as provincial government participation and support, said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Brian Hoyt, the Paktika PRT commander from Phoenix, Ariz.
“Gov. Samim’s continued support of this program has significantly increased the visibility of the VESDW program throughout the province,” said Hoyt.
Because of government support and the potential for engineering jobs, VESDW graduates have a good foundation to build their future along with the infrastructure of Afghanistan.
“With proactive PRT actions and follow-up, small-scale projects for local contractors to immediately hire graduates, this event could mark the beginning of a long-lasting working relationship between the VESDW, local contractors and new graduates,” said Hoyt.
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