Youth unemployment continues to be a severe problem in Egypt, which has been exacerbated since the January 2011 revolution. With the national unemployment rate at 13.4%, youth (i.e. 15-29 years old) bear a disproportionate share of Egypt’s jobless rate constituting 70.8% of the unemployed. Unemployment rates tend to be higher among educated youth. 600,000 young people enter the Egyptian labour market annually, but their skill sets are not aligned with the demands of the private sector.
Towards a Solution
To address this challenge, in 2012, the Egypt ICT Trust Fund (ICT-TF) in cooperation with the Japanese Government and UNDP initiated the “Youth Employment Generation Program in Egypt”. The objective of the program is to address the mismatch between the skills demanded by the private sector and the skills possessed by youth, by enhancing their employability through vocational, ICT and soft skills training. The programme adopted a demand-driven approach and was designed as a comprehensive package of services for youth empowerment in the labour market. Local needs assessments were conducted among local ICT employers to understand the skills on demand. Several ICT companies took part in the study, and 36 job profiles were determined. Another study was conducted with the youth to understand their needs in terms of training and their expectations from the jobs. An assessment was conducted on how best to manage youth’s expectations and match them with the market
The project also provided micro, small and medium enterprise (MSMEs) training aimed to increase the effectiveness and productivity of the young owners and entrepreneurs through the integration of ICT in their operations. The training was conducted through two modalities, face-to-face and online. Face-to-face training consisted of awareness sessions (one-day events introducing the project), training of trainers and capacity-building. Topics addressed included e-marketing, website development, e-accounting and basic ICT skills. The second modality was distance learning training. The programme developed the online platform ‘Kayanak’ to reach out to youth who could not attend the face-to-face training. Kayanak mainly targeted youth aged 21-45 years with their own MSMEs. This component ensured the sustainalbtly of the programme.
The programme also has a vocational Training and the Internship component to help young people connect with private sector companies to increase their chances to access internship opportunities and join the job market. This started by conducting a labour market survey in each governorate to assess the needs of the labour marker which was then used to train the youth to prepare them of those jobs.
As a results of the programme, 60 percent of MSMEs trainees, who were trained face-to-face, applied the acquired ICT skills, while 38 percent of MSMEs trained virtually through Kayanak developed their own web-page to market their projects. On the other hand, 80 percent of trained entrepreneurs applied the acquired ICT and social entrepreneurship skills or used the networking and mentorship services, while 90 percent of the vocational trainees were able to access employment opportunities that require ICT skills. The outcome of the programme is reflected in the trainees’ application of the acquired skills; accessing jobs, developing websites, applying e-marketing and developing electronic accounting system.
The programme was awarded the prestigious World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Project Prize for 2014, a unique recognition of excellence.