Our impact, their voices

Job search clubs run by the ILO gain momentum in Egypt

ILO helps young Egyptian graduates and young people who have been outside the job market for some time to find work through job search clubs.

Feature | 11 August 2017
Job seekers who trained at an ILO job search club (JSC) in Egypt
EGYPT (ILO News) - Moyasar Abbas did not know what he was doing wrong. The recent graduate, with a major in chemistry, had submitted his CV dozens of times to numerous corporations, but he never heard back from them.

“I thought it was just bad luck until I realized the numerous mistakes I committed without even noticing,” he said. Abbas is now aware that the typos in his CV and other mistakes contributed to the negative first impressions that employers had of his application.

This is just one lesson Abbas learned during his ILO training at a job search club (JSC), which aims to train new graduates to find jobs and to help those who have been forced out of the job market to return.

 ILO Cairo Director, Peter van Rooij, said the clubs allow young job seekers to form peer support groups that are guided by career counsellors trained by the ILO. “Last year, over 30 officials from the Ministry of Youth became JSC facilitators. The Ministry also decided to institutionalize the job search clubs (JSCs) in its annual plan of activities and to expand them to other governorates,” he added.

“It is not exactly training, but rather an activity,” said Christine Hofmann, ILO Skills Development Specialist. “The job search club is a place where young people gather and share resources and contacts, while searching for jobs in their various fields under the supervision of a trained facilitator.”

A chain reaction

As part of the Decent Jobs for Egypt Young People project funded by the Danish-Arab Partnership Programme (DAPP), the ILO interviewed candidates from the Ministry of Youth’s staff, and selected 15 young facilitators and trained them in establishing, organizing and mediating job search clubs throughout Egypt.

“The chosen facilitators were also youth to ensure smooth communication among them and the club members,” said Yasmine Al Eraky, Head of Projects Management at the Ministry of Youth and Sports. She added that the trainers were knowledgeable of the local job market and had experience in working with unemployed youth. Moreover, they excelled in soft skills and group management dynamics.

The Ministry of Youth provided the ILO with access to its youth centers across Egypt to host the clubs.

The job search club is a place where young people gather and share resources and contacts, while searching for jobs under the supervision of a trained facilitator.... We try to encourage them to find jobs that are not advertised"

Christine Hofmann, ILO Skills Development Specialist.
Nashwa Belal, ILO Chief Technical Advisor, said that the ILO-DAPP project conducted a mapping visit for 14 centers in Menoufia and Qalyoubia governorates, Northern Egypt. The centers were evaluated to decide on their readiness to host the clubs. They had to be spacious enough to accommodate participants and equipped with the computers, faxes, machines, and secretariat services required for preparing resumes and portfolios.

Seven clubs were chosen to start the project and the 15 facilitators were first met with skepticism.

“Most of the youth we met were very depressed and felt hopeless,” said Rawda Yehya, a facilitator. She recalled that most of the club members felt that there was nothing they could do that would effectively increase their chances of getting a job. “We first had to spread some positive energy, and get them hopeful again.”

Nehal Sadek, one of the first club members, said one reason for her initial skepticism was the novelty of the concept.

“I never heard of such a thing before, I thought it was going to be few lectures on writing a CV,” she said. “But I learned a lot more such as approaching possible employers, job interview skills and self-promotion.”

Searching for the ‘secret’ jobs

“Young people are often passive,” Hofmann noted. “They expect to find job openings easily. This is not usually the case. We try to encourage them to find jobs that are not advertised.”

Amira Hamad, another club participant, explained that networking skills were the most valuable lesson all the attendees learned. Club members were required to share their contacts and resources, help each other and pass on tips about new opportunities. 

The project conducted two rounds of training, including a total of seven sessions in Qalyoubia and five in Menoufia, benefiting 168 youth. The ILO’s job clubs’ training tools are now embedded in the annual plan of seven youth centers.

 “By the time the first round of the job search club was done, there were dozens of new applicants, and the Ministry of Youth’s Facebook page was flooded by inquiries. Word-to-mouth was more than enough to popularize the clubs, and members do not doubt the method anymore,” Belal said.

 “Searching for a job is in itself a job and not an easy one,” van Rooij concluded.