Upskilling for future generations (GEN-UP)

Principal Investigator(s): Dr Brigitte Piquard, Dr Ross Wignall

Project start: March 2020

Project finish: February 2022

Funded by: British Academy

About us

Led by Ross Wignall in Anthropology in partnership with Brigitte Piquard from CENDEP, both from Oxford Brookes University, Upskilling for future generations (GEN-UP) is a participatory, collaborative project which is designed with and for young people in Cameroon and Sierra Leone to understand the links between Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and sustainable employment.

Working in partnership with the youth-focused NGO network known as Don Bosco, and with research partners from Yaoundé University, Cameron and Njala University, Sierra Leone, the aim of GEN-UP is to mentor and empower young women engaged in skills-based careers by bringing them together with local gender activists and community leaders.

Funded by the British Academy Youth Futures Scheme, the aim of the project is to provide a model of gender mentoring that can help communities to combat damaging gender stereotypes and to empower young women to build careers in male-dominated labour sectors.

Ladies in a community meeting

Research impact

Young women learning to cook

The project is aimed to engage directly with both local, national and international stakeholders and community leaders involved in work with youth, gender and employment issues. Outputs will include a film made with young women in Don Bosco skills centres and produced by local film-makers, journal articles, policy briefs and a monograph.

We aim to directly influence employment policy to make it more gender just, and to raise awareness of the difficulties facing young women engaged in TVET. Recent reports indicate that these difficulties have increased significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic with increases in child marriage, sexual exploitation and educational drop-out, and an overall disproportionate impact on young women. 


Brigitte Piquard

Dr Brigitte Piquard

Reader in Humanitarianism and Conflict

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Ross Wignall

Dr Ross Wignall

Senior Lecturer in Social/Cultural Anthropology

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Our Partners

Don Bosco's logo

Don Bosco Technical Schools

Our primary local partner, Don Bosco, is part of a network of 102 vocational training centres situated in 35 countries in Africa and Madagascar. 

With a focus on marginalised young people including slum-dwellers and street children, Don Bosco is an internationally recognised vocational training service provider at the forefront of both local, national and international TVET initiatives.

In Cameroon, we work specifically with the Don Bosco development office 'Ensemble ATE' led by P. Jose M. Sabe.

Catholic University of Central Africa (Université Catholique d'Afrique Centrale)

The CUAC (or UCAC) is a private Roman Catholic university in Yaoundé,Cameroon 

Our research lead Marie-Therese Mengué is a Sociologist and Director of the Doctoral School in Social Sciences of the Catholic University of Central Africa. She is also Director of the IPIS (Institute of Social Policies and Initiatives), which works on social policies in a broader and more specific way on themes that concern children, young people, gender. 

She has worked with young people and children extensively and held several key positions in research networks and groups and has vast experience of working in international, multi-disciplinary research teams.

UCAC's logo
Njala University's logo

NJALA University

Njala University is a public university located in Njala and Bo, Sierra Leone. It is the second largest university in Sierra Leone and is also part of the University of Sierra Leone. 

Our research lead in Sierra Leone, Yusuf Ibrahim is a highly experienced researcher focusing on statistical analysis. He has a recent track record of working in qualitative analysis with local community groups on vital topics such as gender, employment, leadership, health and climate change. 

Ibrahim specialises in providing data management systems to both government departments and International NGOs and has worked with a number of leading organisations in the region.