From unemployed to brew master

At 43 and after 10 years abroad, János Vozár could not find a job back home in Hungary. When a training opportunity came up, things radically changed.

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As a young man, I used to live with my family in different small towns in the eastern part of Hungary. In secondary school, I attained a qualification as a technologist for motor vehicles, but I never really felt I want to become a professional one, therefore I tried my abilities in several other fields. Among others, I performed military service in Afghanistan. To provide a living for my two sons, in 2010, I decided to work as a falconer in Dubai and Germany.

A brand-new start back at home

About 3 years ago I moved back to Hungary, and this was a huge change after living abroad for so long. With my new partner, I started to plan our common future, for our daughter who was about to-be-born. Back at home, I was quite shocked that I was not able to find any job opportunities which would fit my former qualifications in Békés county.

János Vozár with his falcon. Photo: János Vozár

I produced and sold knives, but this new activity did not provide sufficient income for my family. On the other hand, I could only find semi-skilled jobs, mostly for assembly lines. Such a monotonous activity, for 8-12 hours, in several shifts, meant complete shackles for me. I would not have been able to bear it in the long run.

One day, I heard on the radio about a brewer’s training course, free of charge, held by Verba Docent project and funded by the Interreg V-A Romania-Hungary Programme. I knew in that very moment that this was for me! During my stay in Germany, I often visited a brewery in a nearby town and I became quite interested in the method and process of making beer and not only in drinking it. I used to pop in regularly, helped and had long conversations with the brew master. I really liked what I experienced back then.

So, in October 2019, I applied for this 330-hours long officially recognized training course which, ultimately, due to the COVID pandemic, took 9 months. Most of the theory lessons were held online. Despite the difficulties, together with my son, we managed to successfully complete the course. I had doubts but now, I can honestly claim I would start any new activity with more courage, let it be work or private life.

János Vozár presenting a handcrafted beer. Photo: János Vozár

I was very lucky to have the chance to learn this interesting profession free of charge. I am aware that nowadays, there are indeed only a few people at my age, to start learning a new profession from scratch, with such passion. I was also a little uncertain whether I would successfully pass the exams, and I was not convinced that I would be able to finally make good-quality beer, which I could be proud of.

My passion became my profession

During the practical lessons, we were helped to a great extent in the brewery to acquire all the skills and tricks missing from the course books and to gain insight into the ‘beauties’ of this profession. By the end of the course, I was offered a job in the brewery where our practice was held.  I did not even dare to dream about it three years ago. There is still a lot more to learn in this profession and this keeps me motivated. Most of the other breweries are managed by staff having a higher education degree or more experience. But I believe that the silver qualification awarded this March at a competition to one of our beers – which was the result of my own handicraft production – speaks for itself!

Since my time in Germany, I had desired to bring back the traditional old Belgian and German beers to public consciousness, even if it is not a trend nowadays. Moreover, it is a real professional challenge for me to participate in developing and making organic beers, specialities made from ancient grains, non-alcoholic, as well as gluten-free beer types, and malt drinks produced for the youngsters.

A new world of opportunities

If I were to sum up what this opportunity meant to me, I would say passion, vision and contentment! It is a passion because I turned something that I love into a profession, a vision because it provides continuous improvement and earning a living, and contentment because it brings professional acknowledgement and gives me confidence and strength.

Verba Docent” amounts to almost 2.54 million euros ERDF and is being implemented jointly by Excelsior Association for the Promotion of Natural and Cultural Heritage of Banat and Crisana from Romania and Körös-Maros Foundation for Rural Development and Eco-Agriculture from Hungary. Within the project, new educational centers are being built and equipped in Arad and Gyula, to help increase employment in the border area. Moreover, education courses, professional programs and fairs are organized for adults, with the involvement of local educational institutions and employers. The project gives free opportunities for jobseekers to obtain officially-recognized qualifications and even to find jobs in the region. The project is financed by the Interreg V-A Romania-Hungary Programme.