Since 2006 we have been supporting Lebanon in the development of education and training to boost employability, increase access to opportunity and promote social cohesion. Complementing the work of the EU’s External Action Service, we bring together ministries and social partners to develop scalable projects.
Lebanese youth are feeling the effects of the economic downturn and the Syrian refugee crisis on their access to job opportunities. The ETF is currently supporting the Ministry of Labour in the design and implementation of a survey of employers to gather relevant information on current skills needs, so that training offers meet the demands of the labour market. We will assist in the preparation of the questionnaire and its execution.
The ETF is engaging public and private stakeholders in this process. ETF support has triggered inter-institutional cooperation among Government agencies and between government and social partners, in particular employers. A taskforce is leading the exercise at national level.
Political context and priorities
Lebanon is currently under considerable socio-economic pressure. The war in neighbouring Syria continues to dominate the political agenda. Attention is focused on security issues and on providing a solid response to the refugee crisis, with registered refugees currently representing over one-quarter of the population. Securing their livelihoods, enhancing access to vocational training and host communities and boosting educational prospects for at risk youth are key priorities in a climate of protracted conflict. Since the start of the Syrian refugee crisis, the EU has committed around to € 246 million for education and child protection purposes in Lebanon. However, the ambitious governmental plan to restart job-rich growth by 2020, estimated at USD 11 billion, has not yet reached fruition.
Lebanon is a small middle-income country with small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) the main form of activity and a large informal sector. Lebanese women are under-employed at 25.3%. There is also high youth unemployment (20.4% for women, 18.7% for men) and a large number of skilled Lebanese people seek and obtain employment abroad. Recently, the labour market and the education systems have been also heavily impacted by a high influx of foreign workers as well as displaced persons from Syria and, to a lesser extent, Palestinian refugees (around 270,000 benefiting from United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNWRA) services). Lebanon has the most private sector-led economy in the region and a population known for its entrepreneurial spirit (self-employment represents 30% of total employment), but the country remains extremely vulnerable to domestic and regional politics and civil unrest.
Education and labour policies
Lebanon has one of the most skilled populations in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) with almost 20% of adults attaining higher education in 2012. Men are slightly better skilled than females, although the difference is not as sharp as it is for the participation in the labour market. Enrolment in vocational and technical education as a route to higher education has increased, although perception of the vocational education and training (VET) system as a pathway to work is less attractive. One in four youth aged 15 to 24 (almost one in three young women) are not in employment, education or training (NEET) (ILOSTAT, 2007), which is lower than the average in the region, but still represents an important concern. Links enabling the transition between training and the labour market need to be strengthened and a streamlined approach to evaluate the quality of education, monitoring, and assessment is much needed.
EU support and the ETF
As the main donor in Lebanon regarding the Syrian crisis the EU has provided additional funding under the EU-Lebanon Compact. The EU supports specific vocational training projects in Lebanon, namely:
- The practice orientated ProVTE project, funded by GIZ at 4.25 Euro. This project aims to improve the quality, relevance and responsiveness of vocational education and training to better match the needs of the labour market.
- Support to the education and training of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon implemented by UNRWA.
- Livelihoods interventions for Syrian refugees with vocational education and training/skills development components.
As an agency of the EU the ETF are upholding this agenda by:
- Supporting the EU Delegation on the ENI programming and project cycle and EU-Lebanon bilateral policy dialogue.
- Assisting the Ministry of Labour on the design and implementation of an Employer’s survey
- Providing support to the Ministry of Education and Higher Education for the relaunch of the policy dialogue on Entrepreneurial learning
- Contributing to evidence-based policy analysis and system wide progress monitoring
Lebanon is also participating in our regional activities such as the ETF Forum for Quality Assurance in VET and follow-up actions to the joint UNESCO-ETF review of work based learning policies and programmes for young people in the region.