Giving Young Iraqis the Right Skills for Today’s Job Market

Posted December 1, 2021

300 young Iraqis who have completed a three-month on-the-job training have received six-month employment contracts.  

The graduation ceremony in Kirkuk. Photo: UNDP Iraq

After years of conflict and economic turmoil, young Iraqis have been severely affected by poverty and lack of jobs. In a country with over 2.5 million people unemployed, providing young people with the right skills for the job market can play a crucial role in tackling this challenge. 

In partnership with Sahara Economic Development, UNDP Iraq organized an apprenticeship project that included a three-month on-the-job training. The project supported 300 young people in Kirkuk and Mosul. Of which, over one-third of the apprentices were women. 

UNDP collaborated with over 226 enterprises and private sector companies to link apprentices to local jobs. 

Today, on completion of the training, all 300 young participants have successfully secured six-month full-time contracts with their employers based on their performance.   

This shows that bridging the world of learning and work gives young people the opportunity to pick up the practical skills required by employers. 

At the recent graduation ceremony held in Kirkuk and Mosul on 29 and 30 November, we spoke to them about their experience. Here is what they had to say. 

Ola Amer. Photo: UNDP Iraq

Ola Amer, 26, was placed as an English at a coaching institute in Mosul. 

“My special message to young Iraqis. Never let go of your dreams. Keep exploring new ways to do business. We need to stay thirsty to keep learning and being innovative. I see no other for us to progress and build a better future for Iraq.” 

Difaf Salim. Photo: UNDP Iraq

Difaf Salim, 24, was placed as a cashier at a grocery store in Kirkuk.  

“I learned about the apprenticeship opportunity while scrolling through social media. I picked up skills that were otherwise not taught to me during my university education. This included skills such as financial management, client relations and inventory keeping. I am happy to get this experience as it has prepared me better to enter the job market. I can confidently say that I am ready to build a promising career for myself.” 

Mayam Al-Khaidi. Photo: UNDP Iraq

Mayam Al-Khaidi, 24, was placed as an interior and exterior designer for an architect firm in Kirkuk. 

“I am proud of myself and how far I have come as a professional since I started working. Currently, I work as an interior and exterior designer for an architecture firm. I was able to fine-tune my client-facing skills. I also used the opportunity to network with clients and even start bringing in new clients for the firm. I see a drastic growth in myself personally and professionally.” 

Maryam and Shadan. Photo: UNDP Iraq

Maryam, 23, was placed in a Kirkuk-based pharmacy responsible for front office sales. 

“Ever since we have graduated, it has been difficult for us to find jobs. I still remember when I got a call from the project team about my selection to participate in the programme. I suddenly felt excited and hopeful for my future. I have been fortunate that my family has been incredibly supportive of my decision to work and become independent. Since starting this new job, I have learned so much about the health care industry that now I see myself building a career in this sector.” 

Shadan Sirwan Omar, 22, was placed in a science laboratory based in Kirkuk 

“I love science, and what better than to combine my passion while also earning an income. One day, I hope to start a scientific research company that advances knowledge in Iraq. I often dream that this firm will be the largest the country has ever seen. I also want to be able to contribute to Iraq’s growth and create more jobs for young people like me.” 

The project was implemented by UNDP’s flagship programme, the Funding Facility for Stabilization, in partnership with Sahara Economic Development, thanks to generous funding by the Government of Canada. To date, over 90,000 people have received livelihoods support through the UNDP-led stabilization programme.