Caribbean Historic Centers Capacity Building Project designed to provide skills and self-employment training to unemployed

Caribbean Historic Centers Capacity Building Project designed to provide skills and self-employment training to unemployed

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We would like to provide skills training programs to unemployed, using training funds for restoration/conservation/rehabilitation projects, increasing capacity of historic centres and employability of un-employed at the same time. We believe that restoration projects will not only increase employment prospects of presently unemployed persons, but increase sustainability of the community as a whole, providing employment to the community members, who were not direct participants of our training programs. Moreover, our training programs will provide significant training in self-employment and will help to build strong self-employment network in construction trades, arts and heritage. It will also bring significant cultural exchange element.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Our initiative responds to a number of important needs that are prominent within local communities in Cuba. 1. Unemployment, especially among women and youth; • NICS’ primary mission is to reduce unemployment through in-class and on-the-job training; • NICS’ targeted groups are youth and women; 2. Lack of Practical Skills and Instructors; • NICS’ in-class and on-the-job training programs are based on practical skills development; • Since 2004 NICS designed and implemented “Train-the-trainer” programs for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT 3. Lack of Trades Training Schools and Contemporary Curriculum; • This project will lead to an increased capacity of existing Trades Schools in the Caribbean and the development of new schools; • It will also lead to creation of vibrant training, both in-class and on-the-job; • NICS will share its well defined and tested Curriculum with local beneficiaries; 4. Need for Cuban Heritage Site Restoration by Qualified Technicians; • NICS intends to bring well qualified trainers to the Caribbean and create a network of qualified technicians in Cuba and Caribbean nations helping to sustain support for future renovation work; • NICS’ training programs will be implemented on Heritage Sites, leading to hands-on practical training and implementation of NICS’ Human Development Program • Qualified, skilled trades workers will have opportunities for self-employment 5. Transformation and Growth of the Tourism Industry in Cuba through development of more attractions; • NICS’ training programs will lead to the state of good repairs of the facilities through its hands-on practical approach on existing World Heritage sites; • Historical site restoration will increase the cultural attraction to Cuba.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Since 2002, NICS has been involved in Skilled Trades technical training and curriculum development in Specialty Finishing that is unique for developing and for developed countries. Since 2002 NICS has participated in the assessment of Built Heritage properties in the Ukraine. The problem with Specialty Finishing technical training education is that it is based on traditional techniques, which are typically passed through generations and from journeyperson to apprentice. As for today, the trade skills have almost been completely lost. There is no comparable curriculum and/or trades standardization as those available through NICS. Some similarities may be found in Scenic Artists curriculum; however scenic artists work on projects, which will be observed from a distance and where the finishes will not last. Some developed countries identified traditional construction craft skills as a skills gap and have struggled to revitalize traditional skills training. For example, English Heritage has joined forces with CITB-Construction Skills (Sector Skills Council for Construction) to form the National Heritage Training Group (NHTG). The NHTG is responsible for implementing a coherent strategy for training and skills provision in the traditional building crafts sector. NICS designing, developing and implementing permanent training ground and work place placements for generations to come for skilled trades, self-employment and in tourism industry for Cubans, Aboriginals, Canadians and improve relationship with US, creating new partnerships.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The Caribbean Historic Centres Capacity Building Project is designed to initiate “vibrant training” in the construction/restoration trades in Cuba, leading to a national program and certification of Cuban Youth in the skilled trades. NICS intend: 1. To set up at two confirmed sites (in Cienfuegos and Matanzas) in order to continue our World Heritage assessment and start our training activities; 2. To bring our Canadian students, Specialty Finishers, Aboriginals and Women, to be trained on high profile international historic sites, protected by UNESCO; 3. Expand restoration/construction related skilled trades training in Cuba. These may lead to a regular international student (and instructor) exchange program, advancement in certification of trades training and the implementation of new technology; 4. Implement our Self-employment training program for Cuban students and help to design Joint Ventures between our Aboriginal Trainees and Cubans through or with the help of our Social Purpose Enterprise; 5. To offer our training programs to other Caribbean nations. NICS Cuban partners see our program as easily replicable in Cuba because of its hands-on approach and practical application. This program will help to reduce poverty in Cuba, provide sufficient training to Cubans to gain employment and/or self-employment in construction/restoration.
About You
Niagara International Children's Society
About You
First Name


Last Name


Facebook Profile
About Your Organization
Organization Name

Niagara International Children's Society

Organization Country

, ON

Country where this project is creating social impact


How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

What stage is your project in?

Operating for more than 5 years

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

During 2008-2011, NICS performed assessments of National Heritage Sites in Cuba (in both the Physical and Managerial contexts),in which the problem was analysed, cause identified, relevant data collected, ideas generated and solutions selected in consultation with our Cuban Partners:
1. Problems Analysed: Cuba has rich Built Heritage, most of which are in desperate need of repair with practically no resources for restoration, rehabilitation and conservation. There is also a high number of unemployed youth, especially women;
2. Cause Identified: There is no structured skilled trades training, especially in Finishing Trades, such as plastering, painting, specialty finishing, wood and glass finishing in restoration context; These were identified not only as areas where there is a skills shortage, but as a skills gap;
3. Data Collected: In three years data was collected in skilled trades training deficiencies that included a lack of technical training, certification, and practical experience in construction trades, especially in specialty and decorative finishing;
4. Ideas Generated: Ideas were generated to use existing NICS curriculum and well defined and tested programming in Skilled Trades. This includes a range of programs from 1-day workshops in Specialty Finishing to 40-week full time programs, such as Painter & Decorator Pre-apprenticeship programs, including those targeting women and children from the age of 14;
5. Solutions Selected: The solution selected by NICS along with its Cuban Partners was to implement Finishing Skills Trades training programs.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

We will measure our siccess by implementing our Canadian Human Development Model with 75% retention rate on Cuban soil per year:
1. Introductory workshops from 1 to 6 days; (1,000 participants)
2. Skills training programs from 4 weeks to 12 weeks; (100 participants)
3. gender-sensitive programs for women; (20 participants)
4. Self-employment programs; (20 participants)
5. Train-the-Trainer programs; (10 participants)
6. Supervisory programs; (10 participants)
7. Health & Safety training and certification;(150 participants)
8. 2 Construction/Restoration schools;
Moreover, we would like to develop network of self-employed workers with supportive structures, which will include financing facilities, material and equipment wholesele facilities etc.
Access new funders and partners.

How many people have been impacted by your project?


How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?


How will your project evolve over the next three years?

At present we are negotiating with the Canadian International Development Agency to fund in part our project. We also negotiating with paint product manufacturers/suppliers to support our project through in-kind donations of tools and materials. We would like to increase our funders' base in order to provide training in all Cuban provinces and all Caribbean Nations. We are in the opinion, that at present Caribbean Nations competing over tourists' dollars, however Caribbean nations may participate in joint ventures, where tourist traveling from island to island and where urban tourism has an important role. This way economic development for the Caribbean communities will be sustainable, tourism strong and construction/restoration/renovations jobs permanent.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

The Caribbean Historic Centres Capacity Building Project has been aligned with the Cuban community from its inception. Historian Offices across Cuba have been struggling to start Technical and Vocational schools in the Heritage skilled trades for a long time. A good example may be the Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos Workshop School in Havana. Using this school as an example, we may see the magnitude of Cuba’s need for skilled trades training, trainers, materials and equipment. The school in Havana had such a difficult time finding skilled trainers that they had to recruit 80-year old individuals to train youth. At the beginning of the project we will bring materials, tools, books, instructors etc. from Canada. At present we discussing possibilities with cuban government representatives to fund the training project through our social purpose enterprise, for excample, sell canadian construction materials (paint etc.) to Cuban government and finance training and restoration projects in the future. We also planning to increase funding from governments and from foundations.

Tell us about your partnerships

NICS Project is based on clearly expressed local needs, which were discussed with Cuban Partners on numerous occasions and in different settings since 2002. As for today, NICS is in regular contact with the senior management of Historic sites (city historian offices) in both Matanzas and Cienfuegos.
We also have full support from Canadian Emabssy in Havana, developing partnership with the Canadian International Development Agency.
we also partnering with Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Employment and Training and Casa Loma in order to select and train Aboriginal Interns in Canada.
We also in good working relationships with Ukrainian training institutions in order to select and bring to Cuba well trained Ukrainian Interns.
We also in good working relationship with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades both in Canada and in US in order to provide us with skilled instructors if needed. All our partners are with NICS long time, some of them are our long-time funders, clients and supporters.
Letters of support and participation from our partners are available upon request.

Explain your selections

Cuba is the destination of choice for our friends and family memebers - they support our project wholeheartedly.
Project also supported by numerous individuals, such as our employees, customers, suppliers etc.
Project is also supported by number of NGOs, such as Miziwe biik Aboriginal Employemnt and Training, Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma and other.
Project supported by Regional and National government representatives on Cuba and hopefully will be supported by Canadian International Development Agency and by funding of the government of Ontario, through Ontario Ministry of Culture program.
We also receiving in-kind donations from paint manufacturers and hope to receive support from them for our Cuban project.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

At present time we are planning our project to be $2,500,000.00 for three years. In order to strengthen the project we will look for in-kind donations of tools and materials, volunteers (both local and canadian), and applying to additional funders.
At present time we did not develop any means of micro-finance for self-employed individuals. We have some ideas about food security of our future students, but we did not plan in detail involvement yet, such as, for example, portable bakery and/or clean water equipment. All this small (not expencive) sings will be crutial for the overall success of our project and will strengthen it big time.
For the last couple of years our Cuban project cost us in about $50,000.00 per year or less for the assessment and planning. At the same time we tested our programs in Canada and in Ukraine.
In order to significantly strengthen our project, we will need support of US funders, both private and governmental, including USAID - this way we may bring well trained professionals from US to help us with our programming and significantly support self-employment on Cuba in general. Hope it will be possible in the next three years.

Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.


Lack of skills/training


Lack of efficiency


Restricted access to new markets

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

At present there are about 500,000 unemployed on Cuba and permited self-employment. However there is no skills available and no skills training in construction/restoration skilled trades and self-employement. Mesures, proclimed by Cuban government, are uneffective since there are no infrastructure in place, such as financial and material/equipment markets.
from another hand, restoration work may be performed only highly skilled professionals and/or trainees under supervision. Our project bringing significant number of work places in Heritage sectors of Cuban economy, multiplied by significantly increased numbers of jobs in tourism sector. As you may see, at present restoration/preservation markets are restricted because of skills gap. Will also improve access to finances and materials.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.


Grown geographic reach: Multi-country


Enhanced existing impact through addition of complementary services


Repurposed your model for other sectors/development needs

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

for the immediate future we are planning to bring materials, tools and programming in skilled trades to Cuba, which is significant growth comparable to our present assessment activities. Since our assessment of heritage properties is in physical an managerial context, our intended growth is well researched, planned and defined. In order to sustain the growth, we will need to implement significant number of complimentary services (bread baking, water cleaning etc.) and training programs (significantly increase Train-the-Trainer and Supervisory programs), which will be repurpose of our Canadian Human Development Model in completely different setting. Self-employment programs may be considered repurposing in Cuban setting comparably to Canadian setting.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

Government, NGOs/Nonprofits, For profit companies, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

Through these collaborations NICS has constant stream of skills, expertise, funding, materials and equipment.
Through collaboration with Ontario Industrial and Finishing Skills Center and with Construction Safety Association of Ontario we have access to training materials etc., including materials on Spanish language.