Supported scholarship and exchange programs for nearly 2,200 individuals
Provided information on U.S. study to 125,000 individuals
Administered 156,500 computer-, paper- and Internet-based tests
Empowered more than 12,600 young men and women through special programs
Washington, DC, March 26, 2014—AMIDEAST is pleased to announce the launch of a new partnership with the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) to provide employability skills training in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia. "Skills for Success–Employability Skills for Women" will specifically target disadvantaged women who have completed secondary school with training designed to improve their ability to enter and succeed in the workforce.
The launch of Skills for Success took place during the UfM's "Women's Socio-economic Empowerment: Projects for Progress" conference at its Barcelona headquarters on March 26-27, 2014. It included a formal signing of the agreement between AMIDEAST, the UfM, and the Flemish Department of Foreign Affairs, which will add to funds already provided for the program by the government of Norway. The program was also previewed in detail before the conference audience of some 250, including government representatives, development experts, officials of international organizations focusing on women's empowerment and gender equality, and others from the private sector and civil society.
Ameena Barekeh could well be one of Lebanon’s youngest entrepreneurs; she is definitely among Lebanese women who are taking up the challenge of starting their own businesses. Even in a country known for its entrepreneurial activity, Ameena’s startup success didn’t just happen. Nearly two years ago, she was selected for the Citi Foundation-funded Arab Women’s Entrepreneurship Project (AWEP). Over the ensuring months, she learned basic business skills and received the technical support, mentoring, and encouragement that were critical as she tried to implement a business plan developed during the “classroom” stage of the program to meet her goals.
AMIDEAST/Morocco is preparing to deploy a new training tool that will enhance its efforts to provide employability skills training to Morocco’s large youth population. The “Business Edge” (BE) program—a product of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s private sector arm—will also strengthen AMIDEAST’s ability to provide management training for Morocco’s growing small and medium-size enterprise (SME) sector.
The Business Edge toolkit was developed and introduced by the IFC to put management tools in the hands of owners, managers, and staff of SMEs, enabling them to grow their companies. The training encompasses a range of skills to improve personal productivity, human resources management, finance and accounting, quality and operations, and marketing. It is adapted to the local business context, and the IFC relies on a network of local franchised providers and certified trainers to deliver the training.
Participation in AMIDEAST’s DKSSF program is hard work, but well worth the effort, as 15 exceptionally bright young men and women from Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, and the West Bank discovered this year. This largest-ever pool of deserving Arab youth in the six-year-old program succeeded in gaining admission and generous scholarships that will make their college dreams come true!
This fall, the eight men and seven women will begin their undergraduate studies at Barnard, Dartmouth, Mount Holyoke, Wesleyan, and Williams Colleges; Brigham Young, Duke, Harvard, Hawaii Pacific, and Northeastern Universities; and the University of Pennsylvania.
Two of the women students have also been nominated for the NeXXT program, a U.S. Department of State initiative that encourages international women undergraduates to major in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
A pressing concern of young people in the region is how to get an education that will give them the knowledge and skills required for entry into the highly competitive MENA job market and to advance professionally. In April, AMIDEAST and Morocco’s Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research, and Executive Training assembled a group of experts and officials for a discussion of the challenges facing Morocco’s universities as they seek to meet the needs of Moroccan youth who are looking to these institutions to prepare them for the real world.
The topic is timely. According to a recent World Bank report, around 30 percent of Moroccans between 15 and 29 in age—who account for 44 percent of the working-age population—were unemployed. The actual unemployment rate is likely higher, however, as these statistics don’t include many youth who have given up looking for work.
The daylong event, called Innovation in Moroccan Higher Education: Models of Success and Future Challenge, focused on three areas with the potential for producing the greatest benefit: university-private sector cooperation, higher education governance and leadership, and faculty development.
In a Nov. 16, 2012, speech, AMIDEAST President and CEO Theodore H. Kattouf underscored the vital role of education in ensuring a successful outcome of the revolutions in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa. Addressing the joint annual benefit of the National Arab American Medical Association (NAAMA) and Egyptians Abroad in Development (EAD) in Chicago, he said, “A bright future for the region is one in which its many young men and women are able to improve their life circumstances and realize their dreams of political and social inclusion. The region must create many more jobs, but it must also prepare youth to have English language, IT, and critical thinking skills required in a 21st century global economy that is increasingly knowledge-based and high tech.”
AMIDEAST is pleased to be the managing partner of the new Rhamna Skills training center in Benguerir, Morocco. Inaugurated by King Mohammed VI on Nov. 12, 2012, the youth center offers training in soft skills and entrepreneurship along with career coaching and guidance in order to assist youth in their efforts to enter the job market. It is the first of several youth training centers that Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP), Morocco's national phosphates company, is setting up as part of its OCP Skills initiative, which seeks to address the country's dual challenge of reducing its high youth unemployment rate and increasing the pool of domestic talent for the country's growth industries to tap.
In a little over a year, the Arab Women's Entrepreneurship Project (AWEP) — an AMIDEAST partnership with Citi Foundation to expand opportunities for entrepreneurship training for women in the Arab world — completed a first round of training and recently launched a second one. In all, nearly 150 women from six countries — Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, the UAE, Egypt and Jordan — are participating in these initial efforts, which are being implemented with generous support from Citi Foundation.