BEIRUT (ILO News) – Lebanon has launched a national strategic framework to upgrade its technical and vocational education and training (TVET) system, with the aim of increasing youth employment and boosting the labour market and wider national economy.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri oversaw the launch of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training National Strategic Framework 2018-2022, at the Government Palace in Beirut on Monday 25 June.
The framework was developed primarily by four Lebanese ministries – Education and Higher Education, Social Affairs, Labour, and Agriculture – with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), with the funding from the governments of Canada, Australia and the United States of America. It responds to evolving labour market needs, by seeking to increase access for youth to TVET and improve the quality of education and training in the sector.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri confirmed at the event that providing TVET opportunities for youth is one of the priorities of the Lebanese Government, which has requested support from the International community to bolster the sector, as a means to boost the economy in light of the Syrian refugee crisis in the country. “Technical and vocation education and training is a vital part of the process of developing the country and boosting the economy, because it both develops creativity and increases the skills of the labour force,” Hariri said.
With the launch of this strategy today, we have taken steps towards the activation of growth, the creation of job opportunities for our young men and women, and raising the productivity of our economy."Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri
“We should not also forget that the next phase is that of implementation of the Capital investment programme that includes more than 280 projects across all sectors that will create thousands of jobs. This is why we need to have the specialized human cadre that will be prepared to manage and implement these projects. The only possible way for this to happen is by raising the level and quality of education and vocational and technical training to be able to respond to the needs of the market and the requirements of the private and productive sectors,” Hariri added.
“With the launch of this strategy today, with the implementation of the Capital investment program, after the completion of the production sector strategy, and the implementation of the reforms that the Lebanese government has committed to, we would have done steps towards the activation of growth, the creation of job opportunities for our young men and women, and raising the productivity of our economy.”
In his turn, the Minister of Education and Higher Education Marwan Hamadeh explained that “this framework will serve as a basis for improving cooperation between government institutions and establishing strong partnerships with the private sector. It will also be the main national reference to the work plans of each ministry, which will include strong partnerships with the private sector employers. And this plan of action will integrate the main outputs to be achieved along with clear indicators for monitoring and evaluating progress.”
Challenges to TVETIn 2017, over 83,000 youths enrolled in TVET courses in Lebanon. But a number of challenges undermine the quality of such education and training.
Youth unemployment and the transition from school to work is a major challenge across the entire Middle East and North Africa region. The youth unemployment rate in the Arab region is the highest in the world, registering at 22.2 per cent in the Middle East and 29.3 per cent in North Africa, compared to a global average of 12.6 per cent in 2017. Young women are particularly disadvantaged, with even higher rates of unemployment registering at 36.5 per cent in the Middle East.
In Lebanon, the economy struggled in recent years, with growth wavering between 1-2 per cent. There is a dearth of hard data on labour market needs, and a lack of interaction between the private sector and providers of skills trainings and development of curricula. This has further hampered not only growth in the private sector, but also the ability of TVET providers to be responsive to labour market needs and be drivers of the skilled and semi-skilled labour needed to boost the economy.
“The launch of this framework is a key achievement for the Government of Lebanon and lays the foundations for prioritizing the support of TVET as a means to grow the economy and better support youth and the private sector,” said ILO Regional Director for Arab States Ruba Jaradat. “These reforms outlined in the Strategic Framework will help ensure youth have the skills, knowledge and linkages to gain employment and access to work in Lebanon, as well as provide hard data on labour market needs and improve the connectivity of the TVET system to the private sector.”
“We believe that the investment is critical to help reform and shift the educational system to new forms of content and delivery – one that is more relevant, and responsive to job opportunities, an investment that plays a critical role in equipping youth with the right skills to meet labour market needs, fueling competitiveness, reducing unemployment and contribute to breaking the cycle of inter-generational poverty,” said Violet Speek-Warnery, UNICEF’s Acting Representative.
The Strategic FrameworkThe TVET strategic Framework is the culmination of year-long work with four key ministries and other stakeholders as part of the ILO-UNICEF initiative in order to improve the TVET sector. The four ministries worked with UNICEF, the ILO, social partners, private sector institutions, NGOs and other stakeholders to identify the main challenges the TVET sector faces in Lebanon.
Several working groups were formed in 2017 to systematize consultations with key stakeholders, with each group identifying its own strategic goals and priorities for the coming four years. The resulting 2018-2022 National Strategic Framework strategy aims to unify national efforts to reform TVET and support the growth of decent jobs in the Lebanese economy.
A high-quality TVET system in Lebanon will seek to promote the employability of all residents and improve their competencies and qualifications, and provide equal opportunities for all, welcoming marginalized populations, women, youth, minorities and persons with disabilities. It will work to insure the availability of a competent workforce for the development of businesses in Lebanon, and contribute to inclusive and sustainable development.