UNFPA: Life skills in Vocational Education, the Pulse of Youth

life skills training session life skills training session Photo: UNFPA

Iraqi youth, like their counterparts in the region, face many challenges which require several and diverse skills to take the nations to the shores of peace and security. Ironically, youth are expected to play an effective role in building their community and country while no opportunity is provided for them to probe their potentials, knowledge, attitudes and capacities in such a way that renders them self-confident when considering their own ideas, analysis and visions on different issues. If such opportunity exists, youth can communicate willingly with other people, and build and seek sustainable relations that guarantee positive and lasting development for them, their fellows and their community. 



Based on this, UNFPA has remained keen, since 2011, on incorporating a specific training program on basic life skills in its Iraqi youth empowerment project. Having realized an inevitable need for such skills, UNFPA collaborated with Beirut American University in conducting a field survey across four Iraqi governorates. Following the data analysis, line ministries that are directly linked with youth were identified and afterwards involved in making adjustments to the manual through their own task forces, with UNFPA as an overseer. To fill the gap for trainers specialized in life skills, UNFPA, with the participation of Beirut American University developed a special training session to train life skills trainers. In addition, several meetings were held in Amman and Erbil with the steering committee and relevant officials to discuss the implementation process and print the Trainer’s Handbook and disseminate it to the concerned miniseries. A special conference on life skills program also took place. 


UNFPA is implementing the program with two basic partners in Iraq: 


1.The Ministry of Education represented in the General Directorate of Vocational Education 


2.The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs represented in Vocational Training Department


Several consultative meetings were held with concerned officials at the Ministry of Education. Four governorates were named where a pilot life skill program will be implemented to train youth from 14 vocational schools in (Baghdad, Salahuddin, Thi Qar and Erbil) on this vital program. UNFPA has also, in coordination with the Vocational Education General Directorate, trained 40 teachers on unconventional appealing practical methods on how to teach life skills to students. A specialized team from vocational education has also contributed, along with UNFPA, to introducing adjustments to the manual prepared by Beirut American University to make it consistent with Iraqi environment. 


Following implementation, teachers, students and schools managements remarked as follows:  


1.It was a students’ brain boosting good program


2.Useful program and can help students in various educational and social fields


3.Vibrant program which provided resilient lively educational modules with refreshing atmospheres different from those of the routinely provided conventional educational modules. 


4.The program has a direct vital impact on the students’ attitudes and behavior. 


5.The program has generated a sense that something new has come into being and deserves to be noticed.


6.Students felt relaxed during the sessions


7.The program was interesting and flexible


8.Students enjoyed the sessions as they knew they had those skills but did not know how to use them properly.


Future plan with this partner include wider implementation of the program across vocational schools in order to cover 55 schools during the school year 2013-2014 instead of 14, and 7500 students instead of 1500 of the current year 2012-2013. This will be achieved through coordination and cooperation with the Ministry of Education- General Directorate of Vocational Education.  


The second partner is the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs represented in the Vocational Training Department which is responsible for vocational training at the central level in Iraq. This partnership derives its significance and effectiveness from the fact that the program was designed to target youth while most of the participants in vocational training fall within this category. This partnership can help build capacities of unemployed youth to meets the needs of labor market and build a genuine partnership between the program facilitators and beneficiaries; both employers and unemployed persons. An unemployed participant will acquire knowledge and skills that help him/her gain confidence and capability to enter labor market. 


UNFPA supported forming a joint consultative committee with its valuable partner to implement the program. It was formed with the chairmanship of Labor and Social Affairs Acting Minister and membership of Director General of the Department of Vocational Training. It was tasked with developing the program’s implementation plan and identifying the centers where pilot programs will take place. A team of 4 members from the Vocational Training Department was formed to introduce adjustments - together with experts from Beirut American University - to the life skills manual to adjust it Iraq’s environment. 10 trainers were selected - from the vocational training centers (2 from each center) where the pilot program will be implemented – to take part in the life skills trainers’ training session which was organized by UNFPA in Erbil in Jan 2012. Trainers were selected according to the training specified criteria. 


The Life Skills training session is not a separate activity. Therefore, it is being implemented within the framework and work plan of the other 4-months or 6-months training programs of the department of vocational training. The actual time allocated for implementation of life skills program is 80 hours i.e. 5 hours/week (one day/week for 4 months).


To date, Life skills program has been implemented in 5 vocational training centers where pilot programs were implemented in Baghdad and other governorates. The number of beneficiaries was 190 trainees (33% females, 67% males).


Work future plan with the partners includes the following: 


1-Wider implementation through  further training session to train more life skills trainers who should not be less than 4 trainers at each vocational training center to ensure wider coverage that  include all vocational training centers in Baghdad and other governorates. 


2-Regular review of the manual by the team tasked with making adjustments and updates to it, as well preparing a trainee’s handbook to be used as a reference after the course is completed.


3-Spotlighting the program through mass media; for instance production of documentary film about the program.


4-Designing a website to introduce the program to the public.  Training centers where the program is being implemented will also be announced on the website. 


Additional Info

  • Agency: UNFPA
Last modified on Sunday, 03 November 2013 11:05

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