The future of work in Palestine: how data supports the development of skills and competences for graduates
Education systems around the world are united in their attempts to adapt and update their training programmes to better prepare students for the future of work. The data tells us that there is an urgent need to ensure young people at schools and vocational education and training (VET) institutions are equipped with the skills and competences necessary to support the drive towards more sustainable, climate-neutral and inclusive economies. But for some countries, there are additional factors that make preparing their students for a successful transition to work even more challenging.
In Palestine*, the European Training Foundation (ETF) has collaborated with GIZ (the German Development Agency) and Enabel (the Belgian Development Agency) to carry out a joint tracer study to help VET and Technical VET (TVET) institutions, as well as ministries, determine where they are performing well and where they need to improve. A tracer study, or graduate survey as it is often called, is a way to measure the short to medium-term impacts of training activities and to understand just how effective the training is in helping graduates onto a decent career path.
However, the political context in Palestine is an additional challenge. Filippo del Ninno, Human Capital Development expert at the ETF explains.
'The Palestinian economy continues to be defined by the political and economic situation, where restrictions impede sustainable socio-economic development in the West Bank and especially the Gaza Strip.' He continues, 'This curtailment of growth opportunities in the private sector means that there is a significant mismatch between labour market needs and the qualifications of Palestinian graduates, as young people are often encouraged to pursue academic degrees for which there is a relatively low labour market demand.'
It is for this reason that national and international stakeholders in Palestine are implementing tracer studies to improve the effectiveness of the TVET sector, with the aim to increase its attractiveness and improve the skills matching and transition from school to work.
In the Palestine tracer study, the ETF (in collaboration with its international partners) helped the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to devise the two-phase questionnaire and set-up the IT data collection software. The first phase of the questionnaire, also known as the ‘exit survey’, was aimed at students in their final year and focused on understanding the satisfaction with the teaching and learning process and conditions, and students’ aspirations for the future. The second phase of the questionnaire, the ‘employment survey’, took place six months after graduation and focused on issues including the job-seeking process, the actual employment situation, how skills and competences were being utilised, and to what extent students were participating in further education and/or training.
The initial tracer study shows that six months after graduation, 16% of TVET graduates were continuing their studies. But a closer look at the data reveals that while 38% were employed and 5% were self-employed, nearly 35% were unemployed.
'This indicates a high level of skills mismatch, and it is a waste of resources that must be addressed,' says del Ninno.
Response rates to both phases of the tracer study were significant which enabled the Ministry to make some important initial decisions including the establishment of a national monitoring framework. Equally important was the decision to continue the implementation of the tracer study, given the far-reaching impact of the data collected. Del Ninno confirms,
'Understanding the labour market success of graduates in Palestine is vital. The creation of decent employment and self-employment in Palestine is essential for economic growth in the region, tackling poverty and increasing the resilience of Palestinian society by promoting peace and stability. Regular tracer studies allow us to understand the employment effects of the activities implemented in the TVET sector and more importantly, to make the changes necessary to support the personal, social and professional development of Palestine’s young people.'
* This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of the Member States on this issue.