The British Council’s support through the Skills for Employability programme has helped open up opportunities for thousands of young Egyptians through partnerships and entrepreneurship initiatives.
Egypt has one of the youngest populations in the world. A remarkable 75% of the total population are estimated to be under 25. The unemployment rate for the economy as a whole is around 13%, but among young people it is two to three times as high. At the same time, a mismatch between educational output and industry needs has been identified as a major constraint on the country’s economic development.
Against this background, the Skills for Employability programme in Egypt aimed to support skills development for young people that meets industry needs and improve links between education and industry.
Our efforts focused on transferring expertise through international collaboration. Partnership building has been key to the successes achieved.
Vocational training and careers support
Over the past three years Proskills UK, the Sector Skills Council for the materials, production and supply industries, has worked with PETRA, the Enterprise TVET Partnership (ETP) for the creative industries in Egypt, to develop a new standards-based vocational training programme. To date it has supported more than 2,500 job seekers and helped to develop the technical capacity of teachers, trainers and assessors across Egypt.
Proskills UK has also worked with KEMT, the ETP for the chemical industry, on developing skills standards and in-house training. The main outcome was the development of careers guidance and job profiling materials and tools, which again have been used by more than 2,500 job seekers.
The Modern Adult Apprenticeship Programme, run as part of the wider programme, involved helping the Industrial Training Council (ITC) develop a demand-led apprenticeship scheme. The pilot saw 15 Egyptian apprentices from Fresh Co gain a certificate in household appliance maintenance. Accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Agency (SQA), it is the first vocational training programme in Egypt to receive UK accreditation. Subsequently, the ITC has continued discussions with the SQA, Ofsted and other UK organisations to develop its role as an awarding body with UK accreditation.
The UK’s Dudley College has also been working with the ITC to undertake a gap analysis at some of its training centres. Nine of the 42 centres have been chosen to pilot certification with accreditation from the UK. Each centre has capacity for 200-300 trainees per year.
Soft skills and entrepreneurship
Tyro Training (the commercial training division of the UK's Craven College) has worked with the Egyptian Banking Institute (EBI), the training arm of the Central Bank of Egypt, to develop soft skills training and initiatives to stimulate entrepreneurship among university students.
The practically focused entrepreneurship programme attracted 60 potential entrepreneurs, of whom six won a study visit to the UK. Entrepreneurship has been further supported by an Enterprise Challenge programme and the British Council’s support of the Shell Intilaaqah programme which raises awareness of business and encourages young people to start their own companies. The EBI now also has ambitions to market the resulting soft skills course to its stakeholder banks in Egypt.
Egyptian partners report that the opportunity to collaborate with international partners has had a significant impact on the outlook of several participating organisations. One stakeholder described how, over time, the organisation’s approach had been changed through international engagement:
“Our study visit to the UK gave us the main elements of a strategy; it gave us a vision...We came back to Egypt and started to develop immediately...By working with UK partners we have gained organisational confidence and self-esteem. Now we have the ambition to sell our own expertise internationally – in other countries in Africa.” (Egyptian stakeholder)