Employment for Youth in Egypt (EYE): Working Together in Qalyoubia and Menoufia

The project will be implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), and in cooperation with key partners as the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency, Federation of the Egyptian Industries (FEI), Qalyoubia and Menoufia Governorates.

Geographical area of implementation: Egypt (Qalyoubia and Menoufia governorates)

Project Background:

Today, youth aged 18-29 make up 19 million people in Egypt, one-quarter of the country’s population. In the past two decades, employment growth in Egypt has failed to keep up with the growth of the working age population. 90 per cent of people unemployed are under the age of 30, and unemployment has reached an unprecedented new high of 31.3 per cent of the active youth population.

However, unemployment is only the tip of the iceberg as many young people have to accept low productivity, low paid and insecure jobs, far below their capabilities. The lack of decent work is preventing the next generation of Egyptians from gaining the skills, experience and income necessary for the further economic, social and political development of their country.

Entrepreneurship should represent an option for many more young people in Egypt. About 50% of young Egyptians recognize entrepreneurship as a worthy career option. However, very few young persons do start a business, in addition to the fact that the financial market has a missing middle, where the start-up of small and medium-sized projects is poorly served.

This project proposes an ambitious multidimensional and integrated approach to stimulating youth employment and entrepreneurship in two Egyptian governorates: Qalyoubia and Menoufia

Project Objectives

Unemployment is not the only problem in relation to the labour market in Egypt. Among those who do work, many are found in informal employment, or are under-employed, working jobs largely below their productive potential. With strong demographic growth continuing, one quarter of the country’s population is aged between 18 and 29. Rather than a unique opportunity for development, youth have thus become a central policy challenge as job growth has failed to keep up with increases in the working-age population.

The objective of the project “Employment for Youth in Egypt (EYE): Working Together in Qalyoubia and Menoufia” is to contribute to increased productive employment and decent work opportunities for women and men in Qalyoubia and Menoufia governorates, based on a framework of an interdisciplinary, multi-sectoral, and multi-stakeholder approach:
  • Promoting sustainable enterprises;
  • Creating more and better jobs for inclusive growth and improved youth employment prospects;
  • Promoting decent work in the rural economy.

Project Strategy

The project operates at three levels:
  1. The policy level– On this level the objective is to improve the business environment for SMEs development. This will be reached through training as well as assistance in the management and implementation process. In this regard, the capacity of stakeholders in the area of youth employment related issues will be strengthened to contribute to good governance.
  2. The partnership level– By building capacity of actors, building networks, identifying needs of actors (in terms of material and knowledge), creating agreements and cooperating with others on concrete actions on the ground, the project will help to strengthen all these activities and will ensure that they are more streamlined towards the common goal of youth employment. It will also empower the institutions and organisations, which will in turn help them to do a better job.
  3. The field level– The project will work on the ground a) through assistance of implementing entities and b) through pilot projects; for example in order to improve the quality of Jobs in Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in general, the project introduces the ILO tool Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE) training and in-factory counselling programme that improves working conditions and productivity in SMEs. The ILO is assisting government agencies, training providers, industry associations to offer SCORE Training to enterprises to be able to improve working conditions and productivity of SMES in the medium and the long term. In the introduction phase the target is that 25-30 SMEs display a significant improvements in working conditions and productivity.

Five main strategies will be followed:

  • Improve employability of young people;
  • Support self-employment;
  • Improve opportunities to access financial and non-financial services;
  • Increase engagement of civil society partners and young people in supporting community development;
  • Strengthen vocational guidance and labour market entrance/placement practices and services.

Target Beneficiaries

Graduates, selected communities/villages, business development and financial services providers, schools (particularly technical secondary schools), universities, and other training providers, micro and small businesses, including household-based economic units with potential for transition to formality.

Project Outcomes and Outputs

Outcome 1: National institutions are strengthened for SME development

Output 1.1: The Small-Medium Enterprises unit within FEI is enhanced to deliver services for SMEs and to influence policy making.
Output 1.2: Public stakeholders including the MTI, are technically supported to improve government intervention and the business environment for SMEs development.

Outcome 2: Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED) is promoted in Qalyoubia and Menoufia

Output 2.1: Local actors are mobilised around the local comparative advantage of the target Governorates towards better job creation for young men and women.
Output 2.2: A programme linking work placement of young men and women, improved working conditions and productivity in SMEs is implemented.
Output 2.3: Young male and female entrepreneurs are empowered to start and develop their businesses, in partnership with the SME unit, and public and private stakeholders at the local level.