Over 30 development partners participated in a roundtable meeting organised jointly by UNICEF and ILO in Lebanon to take stock of the key skills interventions in the country and discuss strategic directions for technical and vocational education and training (TVET) to better address labour market needs in the current crisis.
During the roundtable meeting development partners reflected on key achievements, challenges, best practices and lessons learned from the past and ongoing skills interventions. They also identified key areas of focus that should be prioritized in the next National Strategic Framework (NSF 2018-2022) for TVET, taking into account the present institutional capacities of the TVET system and the challenges it has been facing.
The participants stressed the importance of (formalized) partnerships and regular engagement of employers in the design, implementation and assessment of TVET to enhance the quality of training and ensure workplace-based learning opportunities, in addition to improving the negative image of the TVET sector. More efforts are also needed to ensure equal access to education and training opportunities, including through digital access.
Furthermore, participants emphasized the need for a better coordination of initiatives among both donor partners and between donor partners and Directorate General for TVET (DGTVET), including ensuring inter-ministerial coordination and lead on high-level policy-making and strategic planning.
The Government of Lebanon launched the NSF in 2018, confirming its commitment to promote a TVET system that provides the competencies and skills required in the labour market to enhance access to decent work and meet the skills demand for economic growth. Since 2019, however, Lebanon has been struggling to cope with a prolonged economic and financial crisis, the outbreak of COVID-19, and the Beirut blast, causing major disruptions in the implementation of the NSF and restructuring the TVET sector.
The triple crisis has also increased unemployment in the country and threatened livelihoods. World Bank estimates that since October 2019 almost one in five enterprises have shut down and one in five workers have lost their jobs. With the job losses escalating, it is imperative to enhance linkages between skills demand and supply to facilitate the upskilling and reskilling of the affected population.
To address the triple crisis, several skills initiatives have been launched to serve the direct needs of the affected population including in the areas of healthcare and reconstruction. However, “more focus should be placed on the productive sectors in the country which would allow the private sector to become more agile and self-reliable while generating jobs for young people based on market needs,” said Amal Obeid, UNICEF Youth and Adolescent Development Programme Specialist, confirming that “more still needs to be done in order to rebuild in improved ways”.
“The country’s situation has dramatically changed since the NSF was launched in 2018. This calls for enhanced coordination among development partners to agree on new strategic directions to better respond to the crisis and inform the revision of the NSF” said Kishore Kumar Singh, Senior Skills Specialist at ILO ROAS, adding that “the workshop is the beginning of coming together to support the government in building back better through improved skills system that is responsive and resilient”.
The recommendations developed during the roundtable meeting will be further followed up with development partners and implementing agencies and discussed with the DGTVET and other key stakeholders.