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EBRD helps create opportunities for young people in partnership with European Training Foundation

By Nibal Zgheib

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A unique, private sector-led approach to inclusion

Education and the dissemination of knowledge are essential for social progress and economic prosperity. Equal opportunities allow societies and individuals to prosper by broadening the talent pool that drives economic progress.

As technology advances rapidly and business needs become more sophisticated, the workforce must match this accelerating pace.

Accounting for 9 out of 10 jobs, the private sector is the backbone of a flourishing economy, driving growth and prosperity. But where there is a mismatch between skills and needs of employers, the EBRD can help to narrow the gap with targeted programmes.

It focuses on support for young people, especially young women, whose integration into the workforce is not only good for the economy but also essential for social cohesion and sustainable transition.

At the same time, the EBRD helps its clients to address key business challenges such as a lack of access to suitably qualified entry-level staff, high training costs and low staff retention.

This unique, private sector-led approach to inclusion leverages the EBRD’s strong expertise in this sector. It initiates and strengthens direct engagement between interested clients and central and regional educational institutions to improve learning outcomes, set skills standards based on employer needs and develop effective apprenticeship models.  

The EBRD has invested just under €1.76 billion in 46 projects supporting inclusion outcomes over the past two years, in sectors ranging from manufacturing and retail to tourism, agribusiness, financial institutions and power and energy.

90 more projects are already under development for 2016 and beyond. These will create access to skills and jobs for young people, women and populations in less advanced regions.

Overcoming skill mismatches is essential to tackling unemployment, especially among young people. While unemployment is a problem for many economies, it is especially pressing in Turkey, the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region and the Western Balkans – three core regions of EBRD investment.

Despite steady growth in Turkey, over 35 percent of young people in the country are not in education, employment or training (NEET). At the same time, a significant number of job openings cannot be filled.

In Turkey, over 30 percent of EBRD investments already support inclusion outcomes. On this basis, the EBRD has developed a policy dialogue programme that brings together private sector employers and educational institutions.

The programme seeks to support the Turkish government’s reform agenda for vocational education and promotes inclusion for youth and women by strengthening private sector input into education policy and the setting of standards.

To boost this engagement on inclusion policy, the EBRD has established a strategic partnership with the European Training Foundation (ETF), the EU’s agency for vocational education and training policy engagement in EU neighbourhood and accession countries.

This partnership will complement the Bank’s private sector focus and the ETF’s significant policy expertise to help young people gain relevant skills to access jobs.

The EBRD and ETF identified three priorities:

  • the development of technical and vocational education and training skills standards, as well the geographic expansion of facilities for testing vocational skills, as part of Turkey’s National Qualifications Framework and reform and in order to reach out to youth and women
  • increasing the availability of high-quality work-based opportunities for learning, including apprenticeships
  • supporting youth employment through career guidance with private sector involvement and implementation of the youth guarantee.

This partnership is due to be expanded in the Western Balkans and the SEMED region. This includes projects in retail, such as the Mall of Arabia in Egypt, where the EBRD works with 25 retail developers to develop bespoke training that targets business needs and equips young people with the necessary skills, or Ayla in Jordan, where the ETF partnership is helping to improve skills in the tourism industry.

The EBRD is also applying its expertise in response to the current refugee crisis. It is supporting refugee-hosting communities with skills verification and also fostering private sector engagement in the development of skills standards and work-based learning. In addition, the EBRD will provide training in financial literacy to refugee communities and support financial institutions as they expand the services they offer to refugees.

With more than 50 per cent of signed inclusion projects supported by technical cooperation activities, donor support is essential to the success of the EBRD’s work on inclusion.

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