Arab uprisings across the Middle East in recent years were built on the hopes and aspirations of a new generation of the region’s youth. However, due to high unemployment and struggling economies across the region, many college graduates find it hard to get a good job. Surprisingly, the biggest challenge is not a lack of jobs. Rather, the region’s colleges are failing to match graduates’ skills with the demands of the job market.
In November 2009, USAID helped address the skills mismatch by helping develop a career center at the University of Mentouri in Constantine, Algeria. At the center, students receive coaching in public speaking, networking and interviewing. Career fairs help students meet with potential employers. The center also links employers with the university to ensure the skills employers need from workers are fostered within the university’s programs.
Boutadjine Bilel was a student at Mentouri with a dream of becoming an engineer. Typically, he would have struggled to land a job after graduation. With no job and no money, his future would have been put on hold.
With the help of the career center, Bilel was able to land a job as an engineer for an industrial company in the petroleum sector, one of the center’s partners. Bilel says that it is “an interesting and stimulating job which I would not have been able to find without the help of the center.”
By 2012, the career center had helped 7,000 students like Bilel prepare for employment. Managed in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy in Algiers, the center also supports English language instruction and has created Master’s programs in tourism and business management.
The Algerian Ministry of Higher Education has picked up on the success of the career center and plans to use the USAID project as a model for 18 new centers throughout Algeria. Neighboring nations have caught on as well, and delegations from Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco have visited in order to study and replicate the center’s success.
Establishment of the career center was a key component of a three-year partnership between USAID, the U.S. Embassy in Algeria, and Higher Education for Development to better prepare the Algerian workforce through focused education and job skill development.
Last updated: March 17, 2014