Last week, Egypt@Work hosted “Promoting Youth Employment in Egypt,” a conference that brought together over 90 individuals from national stakeholders, civil society organizations, youth leaders, and key representatives from the private sector, to discuss challenges, opportunities, and successful practices in improving youth employment in Egypt.

Egypt@Work is a five-year initiative, launched in 2011 by Nahdet El Mahrousa (NM) and the International Youth Foundation (IYF) in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation. The initiative aims to address the urgent need to increase youth employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in Egypt by improving the economic prospects of 10,000 youth. The program offers a range of programs and services, including job, entrepreneurship, and life skills training.

In addition to highlighting the program’s achievements, Egypt@Work released a new study, entitled Labor Market Assessment of Post-Revolution Egypt: Opportunities and Challenges for the Future, which examines the country’s current job market and potential areas of economic growth. The report highlights the perspectives of youth and employers on how to overcome the youth unemployment crisis in Egypt and offers recommendations to help shape future youth development programs and strategies. The report is available in English and in Arabic.

“What distinguishes Egypt@Work is that it provides real employment opportunities for youth, with a focus on career guidance and job placement services, in addition to the training programs. It empowers young Egyptians with the skills and knowledge needed in today’s market,” said Loay el Shawarby, Nahdet El Mahrousa Chairperson.

Egypt’s young people have great potential to drive the economic and social revitalization of their country. Yet today, this critical segment of the population represents nearly 90 percent of Egypt’s unemployed citizens—illustrating the significant challenges facing Egyptian youth as they seek to find jobs and be productive and engaged citizens.

To date, Egypt@Work has provided over 3,500 youth in ten regions across Egypt with the skills, knowledge and opportunities they need to find and maintain employment or become self-employed. The project will target another 6,500 youth by the end of 2014. The program focuses on building multi-sector alliances to ensure these activities are demand-driven and relevant.

Additionally, the program is designed to enhance the capacity of local organizations to better support young people for years to come. During the event, local partners and trainers highlighted the many benefits of introducing Passport to Success®, IYF’s flagship life skills curriculum, to Egypt as part of the Egypt@Work capacity building efforts. One trainer commented on the positive change that she had seen, not only in the behavior of her young trainees, but also in the effectiveness of the entire program. “After PTS, the technical training itself started to evolve. We started to see more dedication on the part of the trainees. They interacted more with the trainers and participated with the group. Because of the relationships created during PTS, several youth participants began the ir own small enterprise together and now are successfully running an e-magazine.”

Through these interventions, Egypt@Work seeks to improve the country’s economic productivity as well as meet the needs and aspirations of its young people. Shaima, a young woman from Fayum, the governorate with the lowest percentage of women in the workforce, explains how the program has changed her hopes for the future. “I learned things that I can hold onto… [Now] I can take care of myself throughout my life.” As a result of her participation in Egypt@Work, Shaima has gained the skills and confidence she needs to earn a living, help support a family, and join the generation of women working in her community.