For a young person who is out of work, the future can look bleak. In today’s hyper-competitive business world, even an entry-level first job can require real-world skills. But frequently, the only way for someone to develop those skills is by working at an entry-level job. Around the world, there’s a considerable misalignment between what’s taught in local educational institutions and the needs of the labor market. What’s more, hiring for available jobs is sometimes based on “social connections,” and you’re not even considered if you don’t know the right people. Even when employment options may be available, many young people struggle to see how an entry-level first job prepares them to assume their “dream” job in time, and they “opt out” of the labor market. As a result, regional economies miss out on a huge well of untapped potential.
To help address this, the Western Union Foundation supports Education For Employment (EFE), a network of locally run nonprofit organizations in the Middle East and Northern Africa which offer job placement training to young people who are struggling to find work. Through WU Foundation funding, EFE implemented professional development and skills-building programs in Egypt. Last year, with the WU Foundation’s support, 78 people gained vocational and workplace training skills, positioning them as higher qualified candidates for employment.
Program participants learned basic skills that many people take for granted, including how to use standard software packages like MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and how to write a resume and create professional profiles on networking sites like LinkedIn. They also met with HR professionals from local companies, who performed mock interviews and gave constructive feedback on their performance. At the end of the training, EFE arranged interview opportunities with their graduates for real jobs at employer partners in industries like retail and hospitality.
Hadir is one of the young people who completed EFE’s training. After graduating from university, she struggled to find a job. Fortuitously, her father worked in the same building as the EFE affiliate in Egypt, and he urged her to enroll in their training.
After completing the six-week course, Hadir landed a job as a sales representative for a technology company, and she credits EFE with helping her write a high-quality resume, prepare for her interview and improve her English pronunciation and speaking skills.
“EFE helped me become the person I am today,” she says.
With engagement from the WU Foundation and other collaborators, EFE launched the #FirstJob social media campaign in partnership with MBC, the largest broadcaster in the Middle East, to help more young people like Hadir secure and thrive in a first job. The campaign uses the power of storytelling to encourage employers and young people to rethink the value of a first job. You can follow the campaign at #FirstJob and @EFE_Global and learn more about ways to engage here.