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Eye of Riyadh
Business & Money | Tuesday 23 August, 2016 2:50 pm |

Leading NGOs Join Forces with J.P. Morgan to Deliver Vital Work Readiness Training for Saudi Youth

Helping to tackle unemployment in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, INJAZ Al-Arab and the International Youth Foundation (IYF), supported by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, completed the pilot phase of skills based learning programs across the Kingdom. The training programs were designed based on the results of a joint report* which found that Arab youth are severely unprepared for the labor market and highlighted that more needs to be done by educators, governments and parents to help young people gain the hard and soft skills required to find and a keep a job. 

In Saudi Arabia, the Labor Market Assessment (LMA) identified four sectors with the potential for youth employment: Retail, Hospitality, Medical Services, and ICT. However, for youth to succeed in these sectors, they needed to possess essential life skills including communication, negotiation, public speaking, and community engagement. The LMA also highlighted particular challenges facing Saudi young women seeking to enter the labor market (e.g., limited means of transportation and availability to work long hours), while national regulations require employers to hire women. 

Sjoerd Leenart, Senior Country Officer for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa for J.P. Morgan, commented: “Across Egypt and Saudi Arabia, many ambitious, talented young people, who want to work, are unemployed. In collaboration with leading NGOs dedicated to the Arab youth agenda we sought to identify employment solutions that can really make a difference. By looking closely at the entry-level opportunities for youth in key economic sectors, we have been able to integrate those insights to help support more effective workforce and training programs.”

Core programs launched as part of the two-year initiative to drive job-related training and placement for young unemployed job-seekers and to help secondary and university students identify career paths upon graduation include Steer Your Career by INJAZ Al-Arab and Passport to Success® by IYF. 

“Arab youth are unprepared for the labor market and this is major factor affecting unemployment across the region. Young people are both lacking work readiness skills and an understanding of career opportunities, especially those that exist outside traditional sectors. Our team actively seeks to collaborate with the private sector to help youth bridge the gap but there is more to be done,” added Akef Aqrabawi, Chief Executive Officer, INJAZ Al-Arab. 

INJAZ Al-Arab through INJAZ KSA implemented the Steer Your Career program targeting university students aged 17 to 21 located across Jeddah, Riyadh, Madinah, and Asir. The program, designed to help young people join the work environment, offered skills based training, including CV writing, interview techniques, communication and time management skills over eight sessions across an eight-week period. A total of                                                                                    

1,000 students attended the program and over 30 sessions completed from across 11 schools and universities.

“The Steer Your Career program has been a tremendous success thanks to the support of our partners. The program, in line with Saudi Arabia’s 2030 vision to invest in future talent, has had a great impact on the generation of tomorrow by equipping them with the skills required to enter the labor market and choose better career paths. The success stories and influence generated by Steer Your Career has caused a ripple effect with more and more partners endorsing the project including the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labor, and more universities coming on board,” concluded Nagib Abdulrahman, CEO INJAZ Saudi Arabia. 

The International Youth Foundation has continued to provide job readiness training, equipping youth with both technical and life skills. IYF partnered with Glowork, the first organization in Saudi Arabia specialized in the employment of women, and employers—Dallah Hospital and Abdulkarim and Co—to implement a holistic employability program targeting 100 young women. Within the program, IYF implemented its Passport to Success® (PTS) curriculum which, to date, has equipped more than 113,000 youth in 40 countries with essential life skills such as effective communication, teamwork, time management, and goal setting. Among those young women trained and placed in retail and medical services jobs through the initiative, 76 percent were still employed after three months.

“The pilot demonstrated the importance of adopting a comprehensive approach to addressing the challenge of youth unemployment in the Kingdom—from identifying growth sectors of the economy and existing skills gaps to providing market-relevant training, including technical and life skills instruction. Equally important is vetting potential employers and ensuring an appropriate fit between job seekers’ qualifications and aspirations—and employer needs,” said IYF Program Director Bassem Nasir.  “Based on the pilot and lessons learned, we’re now exploring ways to expand this critical work to benefit more young Saudi job seekers.”

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