VET and entrepreneurship offer solutions to youth employability in Lebanon
More than 20 percent of youth in Lebanon is unemployed, and more than 40 percent of educated young people leave the country within five years after graduation. Lebanon, like many countries of the Mediterranean basin, suffers a severe mismatch of skills between demands of the market place and low quality of vocational education and training. Entrepreneurship education is limited to a few schools and universities, leaving most of the youth with little option but to emigrate to find work. The reform of the education system is the only guarantee to increase the employability of youth in Lebanon.
Seminar on youth employability
This is why on 22 and 23 September in Beirut the French Agency for Development (AFD), European Training Foundation (ETF) and Center of Mediterranean Integration (CMI), in partnership with the EU delegation in Lebanon, held a seminar entitled “Youth employability in Lebanon: the role of vocational education and training and entrepreneurship”. The event was hosted by the Social and Economic Council.
The seminar brought together some 60 representatives and experts from the ministries of education and labour, private businesses, international agencies, academia, young entrepreneurs and civil society organizations.
During the opening ceremony, Sejaan Azzi, Minister of Labour, stressed the importance of matching skills with the labour market needs. He also highlighted the need to face cultural norms that encourage students to choose academic path, instead of vocational track or entrepreneurial career.
Ahmad Diab from the Ministry of Education and Higher Education underscored “the importance of vocational education and training in the economic and social development of the country”. According to him, “trust in vocational education would be a result of a series of reforms at different levels, namely in the development of a new curricula, investing in equipment and building the capacity of teachers around new concepts”.
Alexis Loeber head of the Cooperation Section at the EU delegation, expressed his concern but also his hope in Lebanon’s resilience and said: “Despite regional and local challenges facing Lebanon, the will, hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of the Lebanese people are important assets that can be used to overcome hardships but this requires everyone’s engagement: government, private sector and civil society.”
The seminar developed actionable recommendations for the reform the vocational and technical education system and promotion of entrepreneurship as a strategy for job creation. Patrice Paoli, the French Ambassador in Lebanon, emphasized the importance of developing “training programs adapted to the demand of the job”.
The participants of the conference agreed that it’s crucial to make education more responsive to the expectations of the market place. This includes engagement of social partners, revising the content of training programs, introduction of practical assignments, traineeships or apprenticeships, as well as enhancing teacher training programs. Ministry of Education and Higher Education should consider adopting a new entrepreneurship component in public curricula and develop a policy that incentivizes young entrepreneurs through an enabling environment for their successes.