Local skills in Jordan
The European Training Foundation has been active over the years in promoting and showcasing local skills ecosystems in the countries where it works. Enabling communities to meet their skills needs and establishing governance mechanisms that bring different actors together to match education and training delivery with social and economic needs are a constant feature of the ETF’s activity.
In 2015, Jordan provided a notable success story as part of the ETF’s Entrepreneurial Communities initiative, aimed at showcasing examples of successful local partnerships for skills. The Jordanian entrepreneurial community was a partnership between two businesses - MENA Apps and Oasis500 - and Int@j, a private non-profit organisation promoting the Jordanian software and IT services industry. The partnership combines incubation and acceleration services for tech start-ups, with training, mentorship and coaching, networking services and matchmaking with potential investors.
“We provide them with offices, infrastructure…all that’s needed for them to function” said MENA Apps co-founder Rania Ghosheh. “We are here on a day-to-day basis for mentorship, advice and coaching. We open doors and network for them, and we provide financial investment.”
Rami Eijalat, founder of ICT services start-up Experts 911, one of the beneficiaries of the partnership, said “Starting a new business from scratch is definitely not easy. Without all that support it would have been very challenging to achieve what we have achieved today.”
A major challenge for the tech sector in Jordan is that there is no vocational training for ICT and university graduates generally lack the full skillset required by businesses. The burden of training new recruits falls to business, which creates competitive challenges. The Jordanian Government’s ICT Ministry is attempting to address this by offsetting salary costs for graduate recruits through its Graduate Internship Programme.
The ETF continued its work on local skills in Jordan through the GEMM project, aimed at promoting youth and female employment in the Mediterranean region. It supported a pilot project in the Jordanian region of Zarqa. The aim was to better match training with the needs of the retail sector by promoting cooperation between employers and training providers. A local project committee comprising local employers in the retail sector, the Zarqa Chamber of Commerce, the municipality and the Zarqa Training Institute developed and delivered a new retail sales curriculum combining school-based and work-based learning. Of the first 19 trainees, 17 were women. A tracer study, following graduates fortunes in the labour market, validated the effectiveness of the programme.
“I learnt all the things that are needed to prepare products for sale to customers” said Dania Zoher, a young woman who followed the programme. “The most important thing is how to deal with customers and interact with them. I can now work in fashion shops and sell cosmetics” she said.
“The essence of the project is building partnerships at local level to improve the quality of training provision” said ETF senior expert Mounir Baati who coordinates the ETF’s activities in Jordan. He explained that national stakeholder committees were set up in all the ETF partner countries participating in the GEMM project to draw lessons and replicate the experience across the country. “The main difference is about partnership” he said. “This course was designed and implemented in local cooperation with partners in the local community to respond to local labour market needs, and this is very important for us.”
The ETF is taking the local skills agenda forward through its work on skills for smart specialisation. This approach, which has been piloted in a number of ETF partner countries and regions, involves bringing stakeholders together to assess skills demand, analyse skills trends and gaps, map training provision and gauge the capacity of training providers to responding to emerging trends and new skills requirements linked to economic development strategies.