A new internship programme for Iraq’s vocational training centers

04 October 2021

Youth unemployment in Iraq

Youth unemployment is an ever-growing problem within the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. More than 20% of youth between 18 – 34 years old are outside the workforce and often report to have lost hope of finding gainful employment [1]. Vulnerable youth such as women and refugees face even more difficulties in obtaining employment. The Kurdistan Government has therefore played a central role in the last seven years in providing access to education and training for women and refugees. Steps were taken to train refugee students in the Vocational Training Centres (VTC’s) TCs in Erbil, Duhok and Soran but it remains a challenge to bring this target group into employment.

In September CINOP visited Iraq for the NUFFIC/OKP funded ‘DARFAT” project with the title ‘VTC short-course development with internships for refugee, IDP and host communities in the Erbil and Duhok regions of Kurdistan.’. The project had a flying start because it builds on the successful project called ‘PISHE’ (Vocation in Kurdish) which is implemented by BBW International and our  partner AMBERO. To increase the chances of obtaining employment CINOP Global developed  an internship program which works as a matchmaker between local MSME’s and the trained youth. The internship programme is a new element which is developed in the current ‘DARFAT’ project.

Internship programme

89 young people have already been trained in the vocations of Plumbing, Solar, Event Management, Office management and telecom. This was specifically the wish of Kurdisch Ministery of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA). Of those 89, a selected group are going to do an internship. In this way the youth will be made ready  for the labour market, which increases their job security.

Internships are a relatively new concept in Kurdistan. CINOP has however broad experience in this field, and as a first step ‘round table’ sessions with the private sector in Erbil, Duhok and Soran were organized. Both the private sector and the VTC were enthusiastic to cooperate on an internship programme. Practical solutions were discussed in which the VTC’s will be leading, so they can support the Private sector to take their role in guiding youth during their  internship. The development of assessment sheets (for monitoring), the development of a coaching system and training have been identified as elements that will streamline the process.

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Following steps

In the coming period, the VTC’s will be further supported to take their leadership role. They will take initiative to review and adjust their training programmes in close contact with the business community. This makes their curricula even more labour market relevant and that is something we as CINOP Global are constantly striving for.


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