Education to fight unemployment: Young graduates to receive loans and start their own businesses
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) organized on 9 September 2013, an official ceremony to honour the young graduates that will be granted business loans by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in order for them to start their new businesses after successfully undergoing an entrepreneurship training, and submitting their business plans in the framework of the project "Fighting Youth Unemployment Through Education".
Held in Rotana Hotel in the northern City of Erbil, and attended by the General Director at Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Dr. Arif Hito, and Director of UNESCO Office in Iraq Mrs. Louise Haxthausen, in addition to senior officials involved in this project from the KRG, the ceremony featured the distribution of special certificates for technical and vocational Education and Training (TVET) graduates who participated in the entrepreneurship Knowledge About Business course (KAB) and were selected based on their business plans to receive loans from the ministry to start their own businesses.
In his opening speech, representing the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs HE Asous Najib Abdallah, Dr. Hito praised this project as it meets "with the strategic priorities of the Kurdistan Regional Government, through enabling youth to develop themselves and introduce them to the employment environment". Dr. Hito also thanked the trainers for their hard work, acknowledging UNESCO's international expertise and their constructive participation in this project.
Ms. Haxthausen, highlighting the importance of this project, considered that "encouraging and facilitating business start-ups by young people have provided youth with a pathway to enter the labour market through self-employment". Ms. Haxthausen also underlined the fact that amid not meeting the final number of projected loan applicants for now, the success of these small enterprises will eventually create additional opportunities for other young people. Praising the support of the Ministry of Labour and social Affairs and its role within this project, UNESCO Director stressed the benefits of this project on a longer term, with around 250 youth provided with "the knowledge and skills of entrepreneurship that will enable them to contribute to economic development of Iraq".
On the other hand, wishing the graduates of this project a successful journey to achieve their dreams, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Embassy of Japan to the Republic of Iraq Mr. Masato Takaoka considered in his message that through "increasing employment opportunities for youth and the number of small enterprises, this grant of some 660 thousand USD was used to address one of the most serious social problems facing the Kurdistan region".
Finally, high unemployment rate of educated youth in Iraq stresses the need to rethink the way education is delivered, and provide direct entrepreneurship skills that will encourage private initiatives and self-employment. Implemented by UNESCO and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs with the support of the Government of Japan during the period of May 2012 -September 2013, the "Fighting Youth Unemployment Through Education" project provided 245 graduates and students from TVET schools and institutes of the Kurdistan governorate with the necessary entrepreneurship skills, introducing them to modern self-management techniques, and enabling them to set up and run their own businesses. In the process, 14 ministry trainers were trained on the "Knowledge About Business" Entrepreneurship course, in addition to 20 business coaches that will act as mentors to the young business owners who got the loans from the Ministry. Six officials from the loan department in the Ministry were also trained to evaluate the business plans submitted by the participants.
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