Project closure and the graduation ceremony of YEDI second and third batches”It’s not the end it is just the beginning!” [Archives:2005/865/Reportage]

August 4 2005
(From left) Eman al-Haidari, Dr. Qabool al-Mutwakil, Ibrahim Jallas, Amal al-Areeqi, and Corinne Levey
(From left) Eman al-Haidari, Dr. Qabool al-Mutwakil, Ibrahim Jallas, Amal al-Areeqi, and Corinne Levey
By Amel al-Ariqi
Eman al-Haidari
Corinne Levey
Ibrahim Jallas

There they were, more than 200 students mounting the stage at the Research and Studies Center at Baghdad Street celebrating their graduation last Sunday. These youth were products of the Youth Economic Development Initiative funded through a grant from the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) in partnership with the CHF and Girls World Communication Center (GWCC). The initiative aimed to support Yemeni youth by training them and giving them specialized courses.

Five hundred male and female youth participated in this initiative, building their capacities in more than one of the nine fields offered through the initiative. A staff of 14 members managed the program along with the thirteen trainers who taught marketing and sales, accounting, information systems, Photoshop, journalistic photography, planning and development, basis of management and business English.

As expressed by many of the participants, the initiative was a wonderful idea and a real opportunity for youth, particularly as it targets 500 male and female youths. It is a real initiative due to the diversity of its free-offered courses and the practical training it offers for companies and establishments to develop the skills of trainees and remove the barrier between them and the labour market, as well as to earn them experience in the voluntary work. Of the five hundred students 150 were sent on various internships programs in the private sector through the advisory council and 80% of them got employed.

Yemen Times was there in the celebration, it was there as an integral part of the initiative as a member of the advisory council, internship programs and participants.

Views from the participants:

The students' views

Hend Al-Mutakwakel who graduated from the photography department said that it was very important for her to study photography since she has ready been working in a photography studio ” “I improved my skills in this field” she said.

Abeer Lutaf and Hania AlKlabi graduated from Business – English. Although they haven't found jobs yet, they confessed they acquired a good knowledge in the business field. They learnt many things such as commercial correspondences and trade transactions. “We also improved our English language, increasing our vocabulary'' they added. Unlike Abeer and Hania, Aish abdulali who graduated as a student of Photoshop and designing department was lucky to find a job directly after her graduation “the skills that I gained from CHF enable me to get the work'' she said.

Nabeel AlBshiri studied all the branches. When I asked him about the reason, he answered that he was an executive manger in some private company. His management was random. When he entered CHF, he realized that it was a good opportunity to improve his skills in administration.'' these training courses will make me a distinctive manger and enable me to compete with other qualified people'' he said.

Osam Abdullrahman Hail graduated from Administration Basis. He wished his searching for job would be easier now, because as he said that he felt confident about the skills he gained through his studying “I thank the staff of CHF who support this initiative''

Mai Aburijal one of the winners of the prize $5000 was very happy and surprised. She said “I and my friend Sara Abdoon offered our project which was named (party contracting) we didn't think that we would win, but we did. Finally our dream will come true.''

Majed Aljaradi a student at then Faculty of Arts at Sana'a University likes to participate in parties and ceremonies like this ceremony. He also presented some speeches in several events at the university. He described the initiative in just one word ' It was great', because found the people cooperative “you feel like you are with your family” he described. ” By participating in this initiative we have many advantages from this project. We did many things. For example, we made presentation with some businessmen and women. We have learned a lot of things from their experiences in the business field. It's very important for youth to develop their skills.”

Eman al-Haidari, one of the initiative graduates who obtained a course on administration basics, said, “I am lucky as I joined the initiative and the practical training by virtue of which I became an employee at the Yemen Times. The initiative helped me to gain new skills and experiences. I warmly thank all those who expended precious efforts to make the initiative a success, she added

Fatihi al-Dhahri, another graduate told: “I went through a variety of different skills and experiences and I never forget my confidence on myself and my qualifications, as well as my ability to make a change toward the future. I am indebted to those who supported the initiative, he exclaimed.

Khalid al-Salami, a third graduate pointed out: “training at the initiative was so wonderful, particularly as it combined together practical training and theoretical learning. The initiative covered helpful courses such as Yemen Soft Accounting System and the computer basics, in addition to group work style and dealing with other people.

Dr. Al Mutwakil, advisory council coordinator: I think the initiative is very important especially now as Yemen is in dire need for such economic initiatives because the unemployment rate is growing excessively day by day and the new graduates are flooding the market where the demand for jobs is much higher than the job opportunities. Basically this initiative is the first of its kind in Yemen and tackles an important issue of skills and capabilities. Arming youth with sufficient skills suitable for the market demand would increase their chances of availing work opportunities, and hence improve their individual conditions and national economy consequently. Another side of the issue is that the empowering of the Yemeni youth would also assist national and local organisations in their search for qualified candidates. Companies are forced to import labour from outside and this costs much especially when turn over rates get high with the current situation of a country. Seeing the happy smiles on the graduates' faces brought tears to my eyes, and my heart sinks when I think about the thousands of other youth who did not get the opportunity.

As the coordinator of the advisory council I would like to express my gratitude to all who worked in order to make this initiative a success. Many of the businessmen and women dedicated of their precious time and resources for this initiative in a culture where voluntarily work is not so common. Very few of this community understand their social responsibility towards their society. I hope that this initiative continues and progresses further, especially that most of the working teams and the advisory council showed interest in continuing further work.

Dr. Hamid al Ahmar, prominent member of the advisory council commented about YEDI:

I hope that this continues and is transformed into a national program supported by the private sector and government. I don't think at this point of time we have an option other than supporting the youth and doing our best to absorb the continuous influx of new graduates. Otherwise the situation would become unbearable and the private sector will be the first to suffer from the insecurity and national instability. Can you imagine that according to national statistics there are more than a million young man and woman enter the labour market out of which only 30 to 40 thousand avail jobs?! In a few years the number of unemployed youth will reach fifty percent of the population and this huge energy would turn into a destructive one if not contained. In this context businessmen and women should work together on two fronts: firstly they should work for sustaining social peace and secondly they should fulfil their economic responsibility through providing job opportunities and social contributions and charity. And this is only fair especially that they are a few members of the society who own more resources than their individual shares as such. Not many merchants realise this fact and their social duties towards their communities. And media here should play a vital role through awareness. Chambers of commerce, businessmen associations and other unions and entities should also contribute to instating the social responsibility of the private sector towards their community. It's not just about charity it is about responsibility and they should not think that it is for free they would get return for it. I have seen many stories and learnt from many people, of which is late Dr. Abdulaziz al-Sakkaf who influenced me a great deal. I have come in close encounters with frustrated youth in many ways and this is why I was very enthusiastic about this initiative. I hope we can do much more for them and the country.

Alwan al-Shaubani a leading member of the advisory council also commented on the social responsibility that it is known in Yemen in the sense of charity and there are a few companies in Yemen such as Universal Group as they dedicate regular amounts for charity and poor especially in the rural areas and outskirts. And we have a responsibility towards our communities and towards the coming generations of the society. We have employed seven people through this initiative and we have promised many more to allocate them in our various branches around the country in due time.

I was very happy in participating in the initiative. Interacting with the youth reminded me of my past when I was young and ambitious. In my youth, was supported by several foundations and associations to complete my studies and I continued on helping youth whenever and wherever I could. I hope this initiative is transformed into a national program but I think it is too early for this transition now. We need to phase out within two years or so from the donor support to completely national support for funding this project.

What do the development specialists think of the project?

Ewald Gold, from EOPSP (Employment Oriented Private Sector Development Programme) who works in the GTZ project, which is a German government organization, explained that GTZ have had a strong relationship with the Ministry of Education for thirty years. They support vocational training programmes in the governates of Taiz and Aden; and were invited to this celebration as guests.

He was very supportive of the programme, saying that; “Projects such as this are very important, we must encourage these types of NGO's to do more of this type of training.” He commented that; “The improvement of the qualifications of young Yemenis is the only chance that Yemen has to develop.” Making this project, and others like it, crucial in Yemen's development process.

The GTZ focuses upon advising the ministry of education to develop closer relationships with the private sector, adjusting training areas according to the demand from businesses at that time. “This is why we are so supportive of this project”, Gold said. “And this is also why we are delighted to have been invited here today”.

Since GTZ are currently working within the governates of Taiz and Aden, in their first phase of a ten year programme, Gold explained that in the future they hope to extend their work possibly to Sana'a, to support initiatives such as this. Gold commented that; “many of the NGOs working in Yemen need to improve their capacity of training. Our job is to improve their performative capacity, which is why projects such as this are a positive development of education in Yemen.”

This nature of feedback from members of the educational development sector encourages us that this enjoyable celebration was part of a much bigger picture, the picture of a future for the youth of Yemen, where capacity building education and employment is available to those who strive to achieve the highest standards of business.

Dr. Qabool AlMtuwkel director of the initiative and manager of GWCC described her experience in managing this institute as a challengeable, interesting and valuable experience since she dealt with youths, “youth are very active, honest, atheistic and ready to do any thing to improve their country. I think such a project and initiative is positive because they targeted the youths who are considered a very important resource of this country'' she said.

“There will be similar projects with new ideas in the future, such as employment & a consultation office for the youths. We hope to open it in other cities “she added.