03.09.2018 - UNESCO Office in Beirut

UNESCO Beirut discusses the relevance and status of Work-Based Learning Programmes for Young People in the Arab Region

In recent years, the Arab region has been subject to political and socio-economic challenges and instability, which has resulted in high unemployment, especially among youth. Overall, the youth unemployment rate in the Arab region remains the highest at 28.7% compared to the world average of 13.8%. In 2017, there were 2.6 million young people without a job in the region.

One way to address the youth unemployment issue is through Work-Based Learning programmes (WBL). In fact, WBL is a powerful driver for expanding and improving the relevance of Technical and Vocational Education (TVET) for young people. And while WBL is not a panacea to solve all of the problems related to youth unemployment, it nevertheless has various benefits for all main actors involved, if well designed and fit for a country’s national context.  

To analyze the relevance and the actual performance of WBL in the Arab region, UNESCO Beirut held on 21-22 June 2018 a regional workshop to share and discuss the preliminary findings of a new comparative synthesis study that draws upon country studies from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, and Tunisia. The study examines barriers for making progress in work-based learning programmes (WBL) in the Arab region, and challenges ahead.

Organized jointly by UNESCO and ETF within the framework of two EU-funded projects implemented by UNESCO - the Networks of Mediterranean Youth (NET-MED Youth) project and the Supporting Youth Employment in the Mediterranean (YEM) project -, the workshop included participants from various backgrounds : country representatives leading WBL programmes, private sector representatives, youth advocates, as well as members of UN agencies and other international organizations.

In the opening session, Mr. Salim Shehadeh, Programme Specialist on TVET at UNESCO Beirut, stressed on the importance of this workshop as an opportunity to “provide essential knowledge on WBL programmes, share country experiences, and network with different stakeholders. The workshop also gives concrete next steps to develop useful regional guidelines for Member States to implement quality WBL, within the framework of YEM project.”

The feedback from participants provided insight into the value of such workshop and study. Ms. Karima Bergheul, president of the Association of Women Working in a Green Economy (AFEV) in Algeria noted that “the workshop’s value-added was the sharing of country experiences from different stakeholders that helped participants resolve tensions and promote successful policies associated with quality WBL arrangements for young people.”


Khaled Abdel Azim, president of the Federation of Egyptian Industries said, “the workshop was an important opportunity to get a comprehensive understanding of regional trends thanks to the different experiences and expertise of participants.” Ms. Hoda Bitar, a youth representative from Lebanon said, “the workshop motivated me to ensure that youth voices are reflected, included, and prioritized when designing and implementing WBL programmes.”

Overall, this regional workshop paves the way to enable policymakers and practitioners in the Arab region to exchange their knowledge and engage in profound discussions about how to design and manage effective WBL programmes. The workshop served as a platform to foster regional cooperation in order to identify areas and opportunities for peer learning.


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