New Entrants to Work Program (NEW)
Beirut, September 10, 2012 - The Government of Lebanon (GOL) launched today an innovative program to improve the employment prospects of first-time job seekers. The $2.2 million New Entrants to Work (NEW) Program will be managed by the National Employment Office (NEO) under the supervision of the Ministry of Labor with technical and financial assistance from the World Bank. The launch was held at the Grand Serail and participants included public organizations and civil society representatives, private sector experts, academics, and members of the media.
The NEW program offers unemployed first-time job seekers life skills training, counseling, and placement services combined with twelve months on-the-job training (OJT) in a private firm. The OJT training will support soft and life skills through using coaching and job-search techniques. Employers who employ first time job seekers will be reimbursed fully for the twelve months of social security contributions that they would have paid to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).
“One of the major challenges facing the Lebanese economy is the creation of jobs for the youth, and namely for the graduates” said Najib Mikati, Prime Minister. “Making use of the skills, expertise and talents in Lebanon is an absolute necessity in order to reach high and sustainable growth rates to improve the productivity, reduce the migration and reinforce coexistence and civil peace.
Building on the strength of Lebanon’s NGO sector and its vibrant private sector, the program aims to promote public-private partnerships in addressing Lebanon’s youth employment issues.
“This initiative represents the building block of a road map to remove the obstacles facing the creation of new jobs for the youth and reducing unemployment,” said Salim Jreissati, Minister of Labor. “It will not only help young people find a job but will also provide them with much needed training on life skills, soft skills and on the job training.”
The combination of financial incentives for employers, targeted training for workers (especially in life-skills), and intermediation (placement in jobs) is expected to have a positive impact on the employability of first-time job seekers. It will enhance their labor market opportunities, and ultimately contribute to reduced migration of skilled youth. A rigorous impact evaluation design has been imbedded in the program to guide policy-makers in scaling up the program.
“The labor market in Lebanon is characterized by high unemployment, particularly of youth, and long transitions from school or university to work,” said Haneen Sayed, World Bank Human Development Coordinator and Task Team Leader of the program. “Youth unemployment in Lebanon stood at close to 34 percent in 2010, and it takes almost one year for first time university graduates to find a job.”
Specific outcomes of the NEW program include:
- Breaking initial barriers in the transition from school/university to work;
- Improving the skills of 1,600 first time job seekers in a 75-hour comprehensive training program that comprises learning modules geared to job search coaching and placement assistance, competency life skills, team work, soft-skills, and communication training;
- Linking of training content with the requirements of the private sector in order to raise employability of young, first-time job seekers;
- Enhancing intermediation services (job placement); and
- Capacity enhancement of the NEO.
“The NEW Program is designed with clear eligibility and selection criteria for both participants and employers,” said Jean Ai Fadel, Director General of NEO. “It will be based on cost-efficient procedures of registration, enrollment, payment, and monitoring systems. At the NEO, we are proud to be launching this program which will contribute to building our capacity, as well as deepen our cooperation with NGOs and the private sector.”