CINOP works on entrepreneurship opportunities for youth in Kurdistan, Iraq

Image Cordaid; Mikael Franci: women participating in a psychosocial support session. All participants are returnees who lived as IDPs for months, some years, after ISIS captured their village. Some of the sessions focus on vocational training, others on awareness raising, gender based violence and other topics

24 September 2020

Young Iraqis who aspire an entrepreneurial future benefit from a good network, quality education in which entrepreneurship is central, and opportunities to develop their skills. Especially when they are vulnerable young people who have little prospect of a job, such as women and refugees. That is why CINOP is joining forces with Cordaid, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA) of the Kurdistan Regional Government, and UNESCO. Together they will work on the project ‘Boost your Entrepreneurship Aspirations’ in which entrepreneurship training for young people is central. With this project, CINOP wants to contribute to youth employment and poverty reduction among youth in Kurdistan, Iraq.

The project ‘Boost your Entrepreneurship Aspirations’

The project takes places within the Orange Knowledge Programme, funded by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and managed by the organisation Nuffic. In the project “Boost your Entrepreneurship Aspirations (BEA)” the partners work together with the Vocational Training Centre in Erbil and aim to increase the entrepreneurial skills of young people in Kurdistan. The project focuses on youth from the host community as well as youth with a refugee background (mainly from Syria).

The good educational practices of the past, such as a strong relationship between the formal Vocational Training Centres in Kurdistan and the local private sector, have been disrupted by political and social upheaval in the last years. It is key to restore these good practices. In the next two years, we will work to strengthen inclusive entrepreneurship education: we co-create a relevant and practical entrepreneurship curriculum, introduce the concept of on-the-job learning and mentoring. The focus on vulnerable target groups also requires training of teachers in topics such as Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) so teaching staff will be able to deal with trauma in the classroom.

A focus on the most vulnerable youth

Youth unemployment is an ever-growing problem within Iraq. More than 20% of youth between 18 – 34 years old are outside of 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. Vocational training can serve as a catalyser for these groups.

The Kurdistan Government has therefore played a central role in the last seven years in providing access to education and training for Syrian refugees that are living within the camps (especially in the Erbil district). Steps were taken to integrate refugee students in the VTCs in Erbil and Duhok, but the initiative stagnated at the end of 2019. It remains a challenge to find durable solutions for bringing this target group into the formal education system.

Currently, half of the student population in the VTC in Erbil is female, the real challenge for gender equality lies in the transfer of female students to the labour market. This transfer is almost non-existent at this moment.

The project will start from November 2020 and will be completed in March 2022.



The Orange Knowledge Programme

The Orange Knowledge Programme is a €195-m Dutch global development programme, available in 53 developing countries and managed by Nuffic, a Dutch non-profit organisation for internationalisation in education. Launched in mid-2017, it aims to have provided tens of thousands with the possibility to change their future through education and training by mid-2022.

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