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occupied Palestinian territory

Basic country data
Total population: 4,485,459
(Last available year: 2013, Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics)
Young dependency ratio: 70.43 %
(Last available year: 2013, World Bank)

Palestine has a population of 4.42 million living in West Bank and Gaza Strip, 1.4 million living inside Israel and 5.6 million living in exile in mid of 2013, with the highest population growth (2.66% in 2012) and fertility rates (4.4 children per women) in the region, albeit declining from 3.3% in the last decade . The share of the population under 14 ranks among the highest not only in the region but also in the world, at 40.1% in 2013, putting enormous pressure on current social services (schools, health and housing). When this is combined with the increasing share of 15-29 age group (29%), the share of population under 30 years reaches to almost 72% of total population. The need for future jobs is expected to increase further with increasing pressure of the young entrants to labour market.
GDP is severely affected by political instability and progress of the peace process. Economic growth is significant during periods of peace, benefitting from massive international support; but slows again during periods of instability. During quiet years annual GDP grew at around 6% between 2003 and 2005, and following a decline, it grew again to 9.3% in 2010 and 9.9% in 2011. In the worst years of the crisis average income per capita declined to the poverty line, leaving about 63% of households below the poverty line. The distribution of employment by economic activity reveals that the services sector dominates, employing 63.1% of workers in 2012, construction employed 15.3%, manufacturing, quarrying and mining employed 11.3% and agriculture 10.3% . The share of services (including trade and tourism) is constantly increasing in the economy and employment.

The labour force participation rate has remained relatively stable at around 40% over the past decade. Historically the West Bank participation rate has been higher than that of the Gaza Strip. In 2012 the West Bank rate was 45.5% compared with 40.1% in Gaza. There are major differences in the rate for females and males, both at the regional and national levels. At the national level, the male rate reached 69.1% in 2012, while the female rate was only 17.4% (18.9% in West Bank and 14.7% in the Gaza Strip).

Along with very low economic activity rates Palestine has high levels of unemployment.  The unemployment rate has been increasing recently and reached 23.4% (35.0% females) in 2013 . Unemployment particularly hits young people (43.9% unemployment rate). Young females have much higher unemployment rate at 62.1% compared to young males at 39.4%. Unemployment by education level shows that educated (young) people are more affected. The overall unemployment rate for people with a higher education degree is 24.5% that is higher than for those with a secondary diploma (20.4%).

The TVET system enrols about 6% of the total number of students in the secondary cycle , much below the needs of the economy. Enrolment rates for women are quite modest and basically in traditional female sectors. In addition, the system is not attractive providing a limited offer of traditional qualifications. Part of the negative perception of the TVET sector comes from its lack of relevance to the labour market, which is due to inefficiencies and low quality.

VET and employment policy progress since 2012
• The process of reform of the TVET sector is driven by the revised TVET strategy, a document approved in 2009 by all key stakeholders in the sector.
• Several big achievements have been reached with new core processes (curriculum development, human resources development etc.) and systems (Labour Market Information System, Centre of Competences etc.)
• High-level governance of the system remains an issue, which has not been solved. In 2014 an attempt to establish a TVET Agency (National Agency for Vocational Education Training, NAVET) has been led by the TVET stakeholders within the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. The cabinet has put the decision on the establishment of NAVET on hold. An attempt to revise the original mandate of NAVET and bring it again at cabinet level is undergoing.
• Donors and TVET stakeholders have achieved a high degree of cooperation. This has reduced overlapping initiatives and facilitated the creation of complementarity among the different reform initiatives. In several cases key international actors have established active cooperation in the framework of specific initiatives (e.g. the ETF, German International Cooperation - GIZ, Belgium Technical Cooperation - BTC on establishing a monitoring and evaluation function for the TVET sector)

Country priorities for VET and employment reforms
1. Continuing the process of establishing a monitoring and evaluation system in the TVET sector
2. Address the lack of a coordinated high-level governance for the TVET system
3. Continuing the process of establishing a competence based model for developing, delivering and assessing qualifications

ETF interventions
The ETF is working on two main initiatives in a structured cooperation with other donors.
• Establishing a monitoring and evaluation function for the TVET system; together with BTC and GIZ the ETF is supporting key TVET stakeholders (MoEHE, MoL, Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Federation of Chambers of Commerce) in establishing a M&E system to provide policy makers with strong evidence base recommendations for shaping policies in the TVET sector
• Development of competence based qualifications in continuing vocational training (CVT); together with GIZ the ETF is developing a model to develop competence based CVT qualifications using the modules of revised curricula in initial vocational training. This initiative serves as a bridge towards the new TVET support programme funded by the EU which should allow the model to scale up at a systemic level.

Palestine participates in the regional EU funded GEMM project (Governance for Employability in the Mediterranean).

Support to the EU Delegatio n
In 2014, the ETF carried out the design of a new TVET support programme (€ 8m) that is to start in 2015.

Key donors in VET
German ministry for economi c cooperation and development (BMZ) (implemented by GIZ): Labour market reform support programme. Continuation of the current programme but with a stronger focus on the private sector. Size not confirmed yet but likely several millions.
Belgian Development Agency (BTC): new programme launched in 2014 to support the establishment of systemic WBL mechanisms. Total of 4 million.
Swi ss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC ) (implemented by GIZ): new programme to support the development of Centre of Competences. This is the continuation of the old programme which has established sectorial centre of competence providing TVET education at all sectors and serving as hub of excellence for all TVET providers in the same sector.



(*) This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual position of the Member States on this issue.

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