ILO: Apprenticeships can be a route to decent work for Arab youth

Regional seminar brings together employer, worker and government representatives to upgrade apprenticeship systems in the Arab states.

News | 27 May 2013
AMMAN (ILO News) A five-day regional seminar on apprenticeship systems in the Arab region began in Amman on Sunday (May 26), with key players examining practical steps to improve existing systems and programmes in the region.

Hosted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Jordan ETVET Council, the seminar examines apprenticeship schemes developed in Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the occupied Palestinian territory, Jordan, the UAE and Lebanon.

Participants include government officials, trade unions, representatives of national technical vocational education and training boards, companies with experience of apprenticeship schemes, and NGOs involved in apprenticeship programmes.

“Apprenticeships should target labour market needs and be built on sound labour market information systems. The ILO is working together with governments, trade unions, the business community and other stakeholders to build up such systems,” said Frank Hagemann, ILO Deputy Regional Director for the Arab States, adding that effective apprenticeship systems can boost youth employment in the region.

Unemployment among Arab youth has been the highest in the world, with currently 23.6 per cent in North Africa and 25.1 per cent in the Middle East, compared to a world average of 12.6 per cent.

The seminar examines how governments, unions, and employers can work more effectively together in terms of funding legislation and policies to produce better quality apprenticeship programmes.

“We need to better promote social dialogue between the employers, the workers’ unions and the government in order to allow the workers to become partners in economic policymaking,” said Lebanese union representative Adnan Daher.

Topics for discussion at the regional seminar include among other subjects the gradual developing appropriate regulatory frameworks, engaging employers’ associations and trade unions through social dialogue, national recognition of apprenticeship certification and the facilitator role of the government.

Apprenticeship systems can facilitate school-to-work transitions by making it possible for young people to acquire work experience along with technical and professional training. They also give the apprentice a chance to demonstrate his or her productivity potential to companies who may be otherwise reluctant to hire young people.

“We must identify our requirements after the apprenticeship period is completed in order to be able to employ young people. It can works both ways: the company benefits from those who are being taught and the apprentices get work after they finish,” said Nabil Hage from the Consolidated Contractors Company.

Coupled with skills testing and certification, apprenticeships can also lead to sustainable, long-term employment as well as increase the employment prospects of young people in the job market.

“The Government has set up the “Centre for Accreditation and Quality Assurance’’ to monitor apprenticeships in both the private and public sectors. This will ensure that the training meets market needs,” said Nadera al-Bakheet, Director of the Employment Technical and Vocational Education and Training (ETVET) Council Secretariat at the Ministry of Labour of Jordan.

Core recommendations at the seminar included the protection of apprentices by labour code provisions and allowing them to engage in social dialogue and collective bargaining like all other workers.

In June 2012, tripartite constituents at the International Labour Conference’s committee on The Youth Employment Crisis: Time for Action, called on the ILO to engage in the promotion of quality apprenticeships, including in developing countries.

For more information contact: Nisreen Bathish Abou Ragheb, Jordan Communications Officer, International Labour Organization; (e):; (m): +962 79 90 480 12