Teachers’ Internships Aim to Help Students Find Jobs
June 1, 2010
Having raised literacy levels throughout the country to nearly 100 percent, Jordan is on track to meet its Millennium Development Goals, yet for the country’s leadership this is just the beginning of a long-term vision. High on the agenda of “next steps” is workforce development and the lowering the country’s youth unemployment rate which stands at 31 percent.
Young Jordanians aged 12 to 30 years number approximately 2.2 million and represent 40 percent of the country’s population. The broader region has some 100 million young people aged 12 to 24. In this fast-changing region and world, young Jordanians need new career opportunities to contribute to their nation’s future.
With assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development, Jordan’s education ministry has put a slight twist on job training. Rather than send students into private sector internships, they are sending their school counselors to experience the business world. In turn, these counselors will be better prepared when advising their students as to job opportunities, the culture of the workplace and the basic “dos and don’ts” of being successful employees and interns. Jordan and the United States have had a free trade agreement in place since December, 2001.
Dr. Jamil Shogairat, Director of Education for the Ministry of Education in Aqaba recently congratulated a group of counselors that had finished their internships. “This will give students new chances to be involved with the private sector. We hope to establish additional partnerships as we also need to have engineers, pilots and other professions to further develop Jordan,” said Dr. Shogairat “Education is one of Jordan’s main pillars for transforming its workforce. We have many dreams for our young.”
These hands-on learning opportunities are being managed by the USAID-supported Jordan Education Reform Support Program (ERSP). To date the Program has placed 78 school counselors in internships in the private sector where they receive dynamic real-world training so they can help students be self-confident and professional when they began their journey into the workforce. The Program will train approximately 330 counselors over the next 4 years, an experience which will enable counselors to share first-hand their experience with students as they participate in the different components of the School-to-Career program.
Manar Jamal, a counselor at the Al Hashemieh School for Girls, interned at a company that provides beverage and food for cruise ships. “Workplace Internship is a new experience for me. During my internship I practiced operational work and learned what supplies the ships will need on their voyages,” said Ms. Jamal. “My experience will benefit students because they will learn about new opportunities for jobs.”
The Jordan Tourism Board previously identified the tourism section as the largest export sector and the second employer of human resources. In 2007, the Tourism industry constituted one of the largest income generating sources for Jordan, making up 11.2 per cent of its GDP. Aqaba, for instance, is the third point of the “Golden Triangle” which comprises the 2,000-year-old “rose red city” of Petra and Wadi Rum, with red dunes and mountains. Because an estimated 7.1 million tourists visit Jordan every year, the country’s leadership is emphasizing tourism as a career option. In Aqaba, alone, it is expected that 10,000 new jobs will be created over the next 5 years.
The School-to-Career program aims to provide hands-on labor market exploration activities for public school students between grades 8 to 11, many of whom come from low to mid socio-economic backgrounds. Traditionally, such students believed that working in public sector (mainly the army and public security) was the best career option for them. The program engages 10th graders who are choosing whether to continue their academic education or pursue vocational courses.
Ra’eda Slehat, a counselor from the 8th Street School for Girls had her internship in a shipping company. Ms. Slehat said, “It will be good for my students to learn that shipping is an employment opportunity that had not been considered before and they I will help explain to them what kind of skills they need.”
School-To-Career helps these school counselors deliver career counseling for students to navigate self assessment, the influence of family and peer pressure, and how to identify sources of information on labor markets. The program helps students map the workforce to better understand available career options and to identify the skills they will need to realize their goals. The program offers students career days and workplace internships during summer vacation.
—Hadeel Abu Shama, ERSP Youth, Technology and Career Development Component Leader