In the framework of the EU-funded YEM project, UNESCO Beirut organized a regional workshop on mainstreaming digital and entrepreneurial skills into TVET systems in the South Mediterranean countries.
Countries in the South Mediterranean region are subject to diverse social and economic challenges, which, among other things, result in high youth unemployment rates, especially among youth, a lower quality and relevance of education, and insufficient skilled job opportunities in the labour market thus failing to meet the needs of youth’s aspirations. In the meantime, workplace experience as well as entrepreneurship and digital skills are increasingly required to enter the world of work.
Against this backdrop, UNESCO Beirut organized on 16-17 October 2019 a regional workshop on “Digital and Entrepreneurial Skills in the South Mediterranean”. The workshop falls under the framework of the EU-funded Youth Employment in the Mediterranean Project (YEM), a three-year project implemented by UNESCO (2018-2020) that aims to address the issue of youth unemployment in the region by improving skills anticipation and assessment systems, the quality and relevance of TVET, and by fostering regional cooperation between 8 beneficiary countries in the South Mediterranean.
Within the framework of YEM, UNESCO has conducted a study in order to assess national priorities concerning entrepreneurship and digital skills, and analyze the extent of mainstreaming these skills into selected TVET curricula in YEM beneficiary countries.
The regional workshop on “Digital and Entrepreneurial Skills in the South Mediterranean” aimed at presenting and discussing the findings of this survey study with the participants, and formulating policy recommendations on how to effectively integrate entrepreneurship and digital skills in national training programmes.
The opening session was attended by Minister of State for Investment and Information Technology Mr Adel Afiouni, representative of Director General of TVET at Lebanon’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education Dr Mohammad Abou Haidar, representative of the EU delegation in Lebanon Mrs Maria El Hasrouni, UNESCO Beirut’s Director Dr Hamed Al Hamami, TVET Programme Specialist at UNESCO HQ Mrs Hélène Guiol, TVET Programme Specialist at UNESCO Beirut Mr Salim Shehadeh, YEM Project Coordinator Mr Oussama Ghneim, as well as experts, youth, and journalists.
In his welcome note, Dr Al Hamami said: “It is no secret that the Arab region is undergoing major transformations with disastrous effects: wars and conflicts, demographic changes and forced displacement, as well as high unemployment rates, especially among the youth. In view of this reality, UNESCO has developed a TVET Strategy (2016-2020) aimed at promoting youth employment and their ability to engage with the labour market. UNESCO has also carried out many projects, initiatives and studies, including skills forecasting, that it has put at the service of decision-makers in order to support them in the development of policies and plans to meet the challenge of youth unemployment”.Al Hamami thanked the EU for its generous funding of the YEM project.
For her part, Mrs El Hasrouni spoke of the reasons why the EU is supporting the YEM project: “The EU’s support aims to empower youth to organize themselves effectively, to improve their capacity to dialogue with local authorities, and to establish networks and learn from each other. The EU also supports youth employment and encourages entrepreneurship in the South Mediterranean region”.
As to Dr Abou Haidar and Minister Afiouni, they both reiterated the Lebanese government’s commitment to address the issue of youth unemployment in Lebanon by making the education system more responsive to the needs of the market, and by seeking to boost investment in order to create more job opportunities.
During the two-day workshop, participants discussed the preliminary findings of UNESCO’s study, and discussed challenges and opportunities for mainstreaming digital and entrepreneurship skills into TVET systems in the region. The workshop offered participants an opportunity to share experiences and good practices, and to learn how to use the YEM Platform as a tool for knowledge sharing and regional cooperation on TVET.
At the end of the workshop, participants developed recommendations, guidelines and resources for mainstreaming entrepreneurship and digital skills into TVET building on regional and international experiences.
The workshop concluded with a visit to Beirut Digital District, an all-inclusive professional urban development in Lebanon, designing hubs where the creative digital community can work and live, offering a superior business environment, fostering the growth of digital startups and encouraging entrepreneurship.