WASHINGTON, May 15, 2012 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today a US$6.5 million Education to Work Transition (E2WT) grant that aims to increase the employment prospects of Palestinian students graduating from higher education institutions.
Many Palestinians struggle to find jobs related to their educational qualifications while employers question their readiness to enter the workforce. The unemployment rate in 2011 was 21 percent with youth unemployment at 46.5 percent in Gaza and 25.8 percent in the West Bank.
The E2WT project will facilitate the transition of young Palestinian men and women from education institutions to the workforce by fostering partnerships between tertiary education institutions (TEIs) and employers.
The project will assist TEIs in making study programs more relevant to the needs of the job market and the economic development of West Bank and Gaza and more competitive with international standards. It will also help TEIs engage with employers and contribute to the professional development of students through practical on-the-job education opportunities. A graduate tracking system will be established to collect and monitor information with which students and parents can make better and informed decisions about future studies. This tracking system will also help policy makers and education institutions in policy formulation and implementation.
“Students need more than academic knowledge to be successful in today’s economy,” said Ernesto Cuadra, Lead Education Specialist at the World Bank. “They need career skills and the ability to put their knowledge to efficient use in a competitive workplace. And they need to acquire new skills in a fast-changing labor market.”
The project adopts a pragmatic approach which promotes work-based learning and teams teachers with industry experts as a way to encourage the entry of young Palestinians into the labor market, said Cuadra.
E2WT is in line with the Palestinian Authority’s education strategy and the revised Technical Vocational Education and Training Strategy, both of which focus on the quality of education and the soft skills needed for civic participation and a changing labor market. To complement that, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education has been developing a system that will respond dynamically to the economic needs of an emerging state by engaging a broad range of stakeholders from the private and public sectors and the donor community.
“Job creation is a cornerstone of the World Bank’s program in West Bank and Gaza,” said Mariam Sherman, World Bank Country Director for the West Bank and Gaza. “Economic hardship calls for innovative thinking to help reduce the burden of unemployment, especially among young Palestinians.”
By linking the expansion of higher education with job openings and responding to labor markets signals, the project will promote the achievement of intellectual potential and contribute to economic growth, said Sherman. It will also promote socio-economic integration and reduce inequality among youth, said added.