View of the Arab world youth
Young people throughout the region currently face frustrations at every point in their educational experience. They say they believe education for employment initiatives can be important for their future success in the workplace and would value a greater connection between their education and future employment. However, World Bank survey results show that only 36% of students believe their education prepared them adequately for a job. They also commonly express doubts about the quality of the current education provision in relation to #education_for_employment, whether private or public.
The first challenge – Choosing the right path
Student say there is little guidance on what skills employers are looking for, and where the employment opportunities will be once they graduate. They frequently say they were channeled by their secondary school grades into courses in which they have no interest. This perception was shared by a state council member, who pointed out that this has major implications for #education_for_employment: “Admission to disciplines based on grades reaffirms the social perception of ‘good and respected’ disciplines versus ‘bad and shameful’ disciplines.” Also, students link their choice of education programs to status, with VET ranked low. Only 39% of students surveyed say they would make the same educational choices given a second chance. The root of this starts early. While in school there is a “lack of understanding [whether or not] supposedly ‘safe’ fields [such as medicine or teaching] actually lead to better employment opportunities.”
The second challenge – Courses have little relevance
Once on a course, the next problem students face is that often the course content has little or no connection to the skills and knowledge they will need in their employment. Even when on a course they wish to study, the curriculum and course content can be out of date. For example, one interviewee commented that some university ICT programs still teach FORTRAN IV (a programming language largely displaced from everyday use decades ago). Not only is the content frequently outdated but students also complain that it also lacks practical applicability. Job related training, internships or work placements that help students understand how to apply the knowledge are rare. This results in graduates having only a theoretical knowledge of their subject, a problem particularly acute in the applied sciences and professions such as engineering.
An interesting finding from the youth survey is that the region’s youth seem ready to discount the importance of such aspects as motivation, leadership, teamwork, communication skills, and work ethic. Yet, though these are qualities that employers say they are looking for, less than 50% of fresh graduates surveyed marked them as important.
The fourth challenge – Finding a job that fits expectations
Once students graduate, again they receive little or no help in seeking jobs or in preparing for employment. This problem is made all the more acute because there is little or no transparency regarding the job market or employers’ future needs: across the Arab World there are currently few sources of reliable information about the nature and availability of jobs, future demand, the skills required for employment, or the relative merits of the various training options. Students tell us that the concept of career guidance is still new. Without such transparency it is very difficult for young people to make appropriate decisions about which education choices will best help them secure employment upon graduation.
You can find the list of skills needed for each career path on Tumoohi under this link: http://www.tumoohi.org/en/job-profiles
There may also be a more general problem regarding the attitudes and expectations of young people, in that they may not be realistic about their future prospects. Of twenty-five professions listed, for instance, only five were found to be “exciting and fulfilling” by at least a third of youth. These professions – accounting, medicine, engineering, financial analysis, and teaching – hold relatively high status in society; medicine and engineering are amongst the most difficult to enter. Interestingly, the survey shows that teaching, a degree program that generally has lower university entry criteria and which has historically not been associated with high status in the Arab World, is highlighted as an “exciting” profession. This might suggest that student perceptions of jobs can change, or it might solely reflect that teaching in the Arab World is generally a profession that leads to public sector employment.
Young people, in general, are not realistic about their salary prospects, expecting much higher wages than they are likely to receive. In Egypt, for instance, while 44% of students currently studying expect to earn more than $160 a month, only 21% of those already in work expect this based on their actual job market