mena yes thumbnailAdapting and Sustaining Demand-Driven Training Programs: A Case Study from the Middle East

While the unprecedented transitions taking place in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have been greatly stimulated by the activism of youth seeking better future for themselves and their societies, the region has the highest youth unemployment rate in the world. In 2012, the World Bank estimated an average unemployment rate of 22% for young men and 39% for young women. These numbers are likely to grow over the next decade, given the high number of youth entering the labor market ill-prepared for existing jobs, thus aggravating an already major challenge for local governments and the private sector. In 2013, Global Communities, in partnership with the Caterpillar Foundation, launched the MENA Youth Empowerment Strategy (MENA-YES), a three-year, $4.5 million program to prepare vulnerable youth in Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen for the labor market. The program targeted disadvantaged youth aged 15-29, with an emphasis on low and medium-skilled individuals, particularly women.

The goals of MENA-YES were to:

  • Link employers, training providers and jobseekers, to re-align curricula to meet market demand and develop meaningful skills that result in better job placement;
  • Promote entrepreneurship; and
  • Encourage pro-employment and pro-entrepreneurship policies.

In a relatively short span of time, the MENA-YES program achieved significant results. Collectively, the country teams increased the employability of 2,050 young people through building 318 partnerships with private sector firms, and developing and customizing 86 training modules to meet employers demand for skills. Over 1,800 youth also received training in access to finance, market development and business skills. While there were challenges in collecting robust outcome data, follow-up with a significant sub-set of graduates found that 60% of them were employed or in further training 180 days after program completion in Jordan and Lebanon.

Continue reading about the MENA-YES model and lessons learned in the case study here.