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EBRD celebrates International Youth Skills Day

By Cecilia Calatrava

How the Bank helps young workers and employers find each other

Shabnam grew up in a small town in northern Uzbekistan. A bright and curious child, she loved learning about science and maths. By the time she was in ninth grade, she knew she wanted to become an engineer.  

Shabnam’s choice of career was not an easy option, however. Like many other girls in Uzbekistan (and around the world), she faced numerous challenges, not least a lack of access to quality education and training, and the cultural stigma of pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  

With global youth unemployment on the rise and more than 200 million young people either unemployed or living in poverty despite having a job, youth inclusion has become a critical social, economic and political issue.

Ahead of International Youth Skills Day, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) wants to underscore the importance of equipping young people like Shabnam with the right skills for employment, adequate work and entrepreneurship.  

Putting youth at the heart of growth 
“Youth employment is essential for sustainable and inclusive growth across the EBRD regions, as well as for social cohesion and political stability,” says Barbara Rambousek, EBRD Director for Gender and Economic Inclusion. We have developed a distinct approach to youth inclusion by working directly with our clients in a broad range of sectors to provide skills training and routes into jobs of the future for young people.”  

“This creates a win-win situation: companies need talented and engaged people to innovate and grow, while young people need an opportunity to gain relevant skills and launch their careers. In this way, the EBRD is working to dismantle barriers and build stronger, fairer economies that work for all,” she adds.  

The business case for clients  

The EBRD helps businesses succeed by helping them to address workforce challenges and provide better products and services. Companies can focus on issues such as talent management and skills improvement to create a highly productive and resilient workforce, leading to innovation and growth. 

By bringing together the private and public sectors, the Bank supports high-quality, work-based and certified training for young people across its regions, in partnership with national education authorities, local technical and vocational education and training (TVET) schools and universities. 

For example, in Egyptthe EBRD has teamed up with Hyundai Rotem to provide on-site certification and training to 80 young women and men on maintaining Cairo’s Metro infrastructure and rolling stock. It is hoped that many more students will follow.  

In Turkey, the EBRD has partnered with agribusiness company May Seed to create three dedicated training programmes that will help attract and prepare young people for a future career in the sector. The programmes combine work placements, grants for students, paid internships and field experience opportunities. Twenty-five participants have already been employed, with many more young people set to join the May Seed workforce in future. 

Better skills standards

Big private-sector employers also have an interest in helping to introduce national occupational skills standards (NOSS), which ensure that skills are comparable and recognisable at national level and allow companies to recruit based on a transparent skills framework.  

In Jordanfor example, the EBRD helped establish the first Sector Skills Council for tourism and hospitality. Comprising private firm representatives, the Skills Council has developed more than 25 NOSS. This was supported by the United Kingdom.  

In Tunisiawith support from Switzerland, the Bank has supported national electricity and gas utility Société Tunisienne de l’Electricité et du Gaz (STEG), helping to develop NOSS for key energy-sector occupations including renewable energy, data analytics and cybersecurity, which will be critical to building green skills for young people. The EBRD has also partnered with local technical universities, helping to launch the STEG Talents Programme, which has introduced an accredited Master’s-level programme for young engineers. 

A will to succeed

Against all odds, Shabnam's determination to become an engineer never wavered. And the EBRD was only too happy to play a small role in helping her achieve her goal. 

A programme on green skills for solar and wind technologies, developed by EBRD client ACWA Power at the Shirin College of Energy, opened the door to an unexpected and exciting future for her. The free programme focuses on honing the technical expertise of local students in the energy sector. It also aims to boost female participation in the STEM field and to increase the number of technical jobs for women. This initiative is supported by Japan and the TaiwanBusiness-EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund.  

“In the past, women's education was considered unnecessary, but this is now changing,” Shabnam says. “My goal is to further develop my skills in the energy sector and contribute to the development of Uzbekistan.”  

Shabnam's story is testament to the EBRD's commitment to empowering individuals, catalysing positive change and driving sustainable development in the countries where it works. It also exemplifies the potential transformative impact of providing access to quality education, skills and jobs for all. 

A programme on green skills for solar and wind technologies, developed by the EBRD and its client ACWA Power at the Shirin College of Energy, is opening the door to an exciting future for the youth in Uzbekistan.  

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