« 100 Years – 100 Lives » | EGYPT - “Without the job search club, I would have never thought about applying for a job outside my field of study”

An ILO’s project in Egypt helps young women and men without professional experience to find their first job, including an unemployed archaeologist from Luxor.

Feature | Egypt | 14 August 2019
LUXOR- Sara Mohamed Taha always dreamt of becoming an archaeologist – probably because she has grown up in Luxor, which many consider to be the ‘greatest open air museum’ of antiquities.

Few places come close to the magnificence of Luxor, formerly the ancient city of Thebes. But you might find it hard to appreciate its beauty if you are trying to find a decent job. Taha is one of many Egyptian youths who struggled to enter the world of work.

After finishing high school, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the Faculty of Archaeology of Egypt’s South Valley University. However, the 25-year- old could not find a job matching her qualifications and dreams.

“The fact is that there are hardly any jobs available for archaeologists, especially for young graduates without work experience,” Taha explained.

The young woman had been unemployed for several years when she heard about an ILO activity called Job Search Clubs (JSCs), organized through youth centres in Egypt.

The JSCs bring together young people to share their resources and contacts while searching for a job, under the supervision of a trained facilitator. Together with a friend, Taha approached the Luxor Youth Centre and they became members.

“Joining the club, it was a huge relief for me to see so many young people face similar challenges and difficulties,” Taha said.

Preparing for a first job

Like Taha, many young people in Luxor face difficulties in moving from school or university into their first job. One-in-two unemployed young people in Egypt has
been looking for a job for two years or more. Against this backdrop, the JSC training programme provides long-term unemployed youth, including those with no work experience, with essential skills to help them find a suitable job in the shortest time.

“We discussed and learned how to actively look for a job and how to present our skills to different employers,” Taha said of her experience with the JSC activities.

“Since 2014, the ILO Decent Jobs for Egypt’s Young People (DJEP) project, has offered Job Search Clubs activities at local youth centres run by the Ministry of Youth and Sports in three governorates,” said Amal Mowafy, Chief Technical Advisor of the DJEP Project. “In 2017, it was extended to Luxor to support young women and men to find decent work.”
“You are part of a community”

Each JSC provides a 10-day programme of group activities. These include coaching and group work, and also use modern information technology tools and
social media. “Job search clubs enable young people to independently find a decent job, and provide them with the right tools to identify vacancies and apply successfully,” explained Eric Oechslin, acting ILO Cairo Director.

JSCs are not only about gaining skills but also about receiving support from other jobseekers.

“The most important experience for me was to fit in, to feel that I am part of a community,” Taha said, adding that other club members helped her to identify job opportunities.

“The truth is that job searching can be an exhausting, even daunting experience. However, having a common goal as a group and sharing success stories with each other, has been highly motivating.”

Thinking outside the box

Six weeks after joining the training programme, Taha was offered a job as a marketing representative in a company that manufactures natural oils and cosmetic products.
“Without my time with the JSC, I would have never thought about applying for a job outside my field of study,” she said.

“What’s more, I enjoy my work a lot. And I think that gaining some initial work experience is important and will be helpful in the future.”

Her experience mirrors that of many of the 1,000
young people who have followed the programme so far. More than 40 per cent found a job within three months of joining a JSC.

This success means that JSCs have become a standard activity at youth centres, organized nationwide by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

“The JSCs have contributed to more and better jobs for young people across Egypt, and scaling up the project to the national level will positively impact on the development agenda of the country, particularly with respect to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 8, which puts job creation at the heart of economic policy making,” said Oechslin.

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