New academy builds capacity for effective and efficient skills development in Lebanon

The ILO and its International Training Centre (ITC-ILO), with contributions from UNICEF, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands have launched the Skills Academy Lebanon – a customised online training package for capacity development of stakeholders in the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) sector.

The aim of the Academy is to strengthen the capacities of participants to improve the relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of the skills development systems, policies and related programmes in Lebanon, in order to respond to the needs of the individual, the society and the economy.

The initiative, launched in December 2020, responds to many of the unprecedented transformations affecting the world of work, caused not only by technological advances, demographics and climate change, but also by a pandemic of staggering global proportions.

The spread of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on Lebanon’s labour market, contributing to increased unemployment, job insecurity and vulnerability, and young people are among the hardest hit. Prior to the onset of the pandemic, half of all employed young people in Lebanon were working in sectors that were at high risk of job losses, while almost a quarter of all young people were not in employment, education or training. The pandemic emerged in Lebanon at a time when the country was grappling with its worst economic and financial crisis in decades, leaving thousands of workers either unemployed, or under-employed with reduced wages and working hours. The disruptions in education and training, and limited prospects for work due to COVID-19 containment measures and the deteriorating economic situation, are expected to increase labour inactivity and NEET rates (rates of those not in employment, education or training) even further among youth.

With the multifaceted crisis facing Lebanon, skills development and developing the capacity of key stakeholders can play a critical role in mitigating the impact of COVID-19 in the immediate term. Skills development is crucial for building the resilience of workers and businesses as they prepare to recover from the economic and labour market impact of the pandemic.

During the virtual launch of the ILO Skills Academy Lebanon, Frank Hagemann, ILO Deputy Regional Director for Arab States, emphasized the uniqueness of the Academy, both as a comprehensive training programme and in terms of its online delivery approach.

This Skills Academy is the first of its kind in the region to provide a platform for open discussion between experts and participants.”

Frank Hagemann, ILO Deputy Regional Director for Arab States

“This Skills Academy is the first of its kind in the region to provide a platform for open discussion between experts and participants,” Hagemann said. “They will be able to share insight, knowledge, experiences, ideas and concerns on various topics, to help ensure that TVET in Lebanon will successfully meet challenges and contribute to eventual economic recovery.”

He added: “Access to education is a fundamental human right, and access to skills development is an indispensable prerequisite for Decent Work. Therefore, it is the joint responsibility of all to provide Lebanon’s youth with the skills that the workplace demands, so that both workers and enterprises can look forward to a better future of work.”

Andreas Klemmer, Director of Training at the ITC-ILO, explained that “capacity evolves over time. It is a result of a series of interventions at different system levels – encompassing individual capacity and institutional capacity development. Here, we are looking at a learning journey that will have a duration of six months. We are delivering this in partnership with other UN agencies, pulling-in resource persons from across the skills development industry globally. This is not a unilateral but networked learning effort.”

We are delivering this in partnership with other UN agencies, pulling-in resource persons from across the skills development industry globally.”

Andreas Klemmer, Director of Training at the ITC-ILO

The Lebanon crisis has highlighted the urgent need to equip youth with the right skills to accelerate the transition to a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient economy. This requires intensive investment in education and skills training and expanded partnerships with employers, to narrow the persistent gap between the kinds of skills in demand by the market, and those in actual supply. This takes place through a strategic and systematic processes, including “skills anticipation” – or anticipating the skills future labour markets will need. Addressing current challenges also requires multi-stakeholder partnerships between policy-makers and practitioners to ensure quality responsive training, as well as adapting TVET delivery modalities to distance and digital learning.

The current situation in Lebanon also underlines the need to improve labour market prospects and the quality of work on offer for the labour market’s most disadvantaged groups, through targeted initiatives and active labour market programmes. These groups include women, youth, persons with disabilities, workers in rural areas or in the informal economy, migrants and refugees. To enhance their employability and facilitate their transition to decent work, members of these groups should be provided with a package of support services that includes remedial education, core skills, vocational and job-readiness training, work experience, awareness of labour rights and occupational safety and health, job-search assistance, and career guidance and counselling. To give young people a competitive head-start in the labour market, the education and training system needs to incorporate innovative approaches to skills acquisition that combines training with employment and income generating opportunities. These include apprenticeships and on-the-job training schemes, which provide young people with the opportunity to learn a trade and enter the practical world of work.

The Skills Academy will run from December 2020 to May 2021. The Academy is based on a training needs assessment ITC-ILO undertook in close coordination with the ILO skills team, and it includes content specific to COVID-19 to reflect recent challenges and developments in the areas of TVET and skills development. The first, introductory course – “Systemic approach to skills development” – tackles the five pillars of skills development: I) Policies, structures and resources for skills development; II) Anticipating, planning and monitoring skills development; III) Developing, certifying and recognising skills; IV) Improving access to skills development and the labour market for all; and V) Skills for employability, decent work and productivity in the workplace. The subsequent six thematic courses provide an in-depth examination of these pillars and focus on: skills anticipation and matching; quality apprenticeship and engaging social partners in skills development; career guidance and employment services; an e-Lab on digital TVET; management of vocational training centres; and a sectoral approach to skills development.

A total of 174 participants from 32 organizations are registered in the Academy, with each participant taking part in up to four courses (including the introductory course) across the six topics, based on their needs and interests. Participants will benefit from targeted technical assistance, institutional development and capacity building interventions. Participants include representatives of governmental institutions in the ministries of Education, Agriculture, Labour, and Social Affairs, as well as the Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Lebanese industrialists, the Confederation of Trade Unions, TVET institutions, NGOs active in the sector and UN agencies. The target audience includes policymakers, managers and officers, teachers and instructors, counsellors, and others engaged in skills development and post training support.

All participants who successfully complete training will receive a certificate of achievement stating the developed competencies. They will also receive tailored coaching and mentoring services.

The Skills Academy Lebanon supports and builds on ILO’s skills interventions in the country, including the ILO’s Strategy in Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis and the UN Inter-Agency Lebanon Crisis Response Plan (LCRP). It addresses capacity needs identified in the 2018-2022 National Strategic Framework for TVET in Lebanon, developed by the Government of Lebanon with the support of UNICEF and the ILO, that promotes a quality, relevant, and inclusive TVET system for youth and workers. It also addresses recommendations and needs identified in the evaluation of the ILO-Italian Cooperation project and ILO-UNICEF cooperation project that emphasized the need to include coaching support with the provided training to “transfer knowledge and skills into actionable and tangible actions on the ground”.

The Skills Academy complements the ILO’s extensive work and commitment to improving skills development policies and programmes, in line with the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work, adopted in 2019, which calls for a human-centred approach by “promoting the acquisition of skills, competencies and qualifications for all workers throughout their working lives”, and specifically the recommendations related to effective lifelong learning and quality education for all.

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