The Der ez Zor Governorate, located within the northeastern region of Syria, is faced with a number of challenges. First, the region has suffered drought for the last three years and, as agricultural activities are the main source of income for the region, the impact of the drought on its population has been severe.
Second, the labor force in Der ez Zor suffers from poor technical and managerial skills as well as a high illiteracy rate estimated at 38.6 percent. Third, there is a lack of services which links labor market demand with workers which has negatively impacted the business environment, as investors are unable to identify local labor to support their projects. Taken together, these challenges are exacerbating an already high unemployment rate, which can reach up to 20 percent, much of which is made up of youth and women.
In order to address these challenges head on, UNDP in Syria conducted a needs assessment survey to identify the competencies and skills that are required by the business market in the region. Based on the survey results, a number of vocational professions were identified as missing in the labor market. As a result, UNDP entered into partnership with the oil company Total E&P – which provided USD 450,000 in funding – the Syrian Ministry of Industry and the Chamber of Commerce to build a new vocational training center. The center, which was launched in July 2011, aims to build the vocational skills of youth and women in order to open new market opportunities in areas other than agriculture and to prepare them for jobs in regional markets in order to increase their employability as well as address local market needs.
The training materials for the center were developed based on a comprehensive mapping exercise which determined both the professions that are most in demand in the labor market, as well as the skills needed among the youth to satisfy the needs of companies in the region. The center provides three months of vocational training in each of the seven vocational professions, including skills in repairing cell-phones, air conditioners and cars; welding; computer hardware assembling and maintenance, tailoring, cosmetics and hairdressing. The training materials were developed in cooperation with United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA). Moreover, the training of trainers was conducted for more than 15 qualified trainers from the region. Presently, there are more than 16 graduates for each professional category and the center is expected to have more than 1394 graduates during next year.
Furthermore, the center also acts as a facilitation and information hub for local Syrian entrepreneurs to meet their business development and technical needs and help reduce the development disparities between the Northeast region and other regions.
For more information, please contact Ms. Faten Tibi, Business for Development Unit, UNDP, Damascus.