In Egypt, one out of three youth face unemployment. According to the International Labour Organization, “the greatest threat to Egypt's tenuous economic progress and social stability is its tremendous lack of decent work opportunities for young people (aged 15-29) especially in rural areas”. Young women and men seeking jobs face numerous obstacles, including mismatched skills and inadequate preparation for and information about job market demands. They lack access to employer contacts and affordable training to develop marketable skills. Few opportunities exist for workplace-based mentorship and coaching, making it hard for new entrants in many technical occupations. The overall employment situation is particularly critical for youth living in rural areas, leading them into economic inactivity or to migrate from rural areas into over-crowded cities where job prospects are not much better.
To address a number of these challenges, the Aga Khan Foundation and Om Habibeh Foundation in Egypt have undertaken an initiative to improve the livelihoods of young women and men in Aswan and Kom Ombo districts in Upper Egypt. In the Aswan Governorate, the poverty rate of this largely rural population is more than 60% and unemployment rates exceed national averages. The Aswan Skills Development Programme is improving economic opportunities for youth by strengthening the quality and range of technical and vocational training, professional training, entrepreneurship support programmes and employment services available to them.
Partnering with Seneca College in Toronto, the programme applies a model of market-responsive, competence-based technical and vocational education and training; entrepreneurship education and support; and professional and management training. It incorporates innovative elements such as internships and mentorships, job counseling and placement services, e-learning, employability/soft skills training and entrepreneurship support services.
Through support to local training institutions, government agencies and Aswan University, the project is conducting research to understand the constraints facing female job seekers while strengthening the provision of demand-driven skills training and building more effective links between the labour market and training institutions.
The programme is improving employment and employability for 6,000 young women and men.
This article was adapted from a publication that first appeared on the AKF Canada website.