Four generations of Palestinian refugees have received support from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) since 1950. To foster independence, UNRWA and Cisco Networking Academy launched a partnership to prepare Palestinian youth for technology careers. A 96% hire rate in Jordan is proof of their success.
Palestinian refugees who receive UNRWA support often lack the education and skills to apply for jobs that lead to stable careers and advancement out of poverty. As the ICT sector began to grow in the UNRWA hosting countries and the Arabian Gulf Region, UNRWA saw an opportunity to prepare youth, particularly women, for entry-level information communications technology (ICT) positions.
In 2001, the first Cisco Networking Academy opened at Wadi Seer Training Center in Jordan to test the possibility of a vocational ICT program for refugees. By 2014, the program had expanded to 9 UNRWA vocational training centers with an internship and advanced courses in security and wireless technology. The rigorous two-year program prepares students for networking and IT-related careers and higher education in engineering, computer science, and related fields.
“By partnering with a leading organization like UNRWA that provides services to the Palestinian Refugees in Levant countries, we’re dedicated to unlocking youth potential and drive job creation, while also boosting economies and global competitiveness," said Mohamed Jinini, Networking Academy Area Manager for Levant Countries at Cisco. "Cisco Networking Academy provides access to high-quality educational opportunities, which provide the vocational training that will prepare UNRWA students to become members of the global 21st century workforce.”
Graduates of the UNRWA ICT program have earned an excellent reputation with hiring companies throughout the region. Potential employers value the hands-on work students gain from using the latest equipment in the up-to-date UNRWA labs. UNRWA operates 150 secondary schools for Palestinian refugees and is piloting a summer camp program to extend ICT training to younger students.
“The students of UNRWA are very much in demand,” said Nevine ElKadi, manager of Cisco learning and development, Middle East. “When employers are looking for graduates – they know the students have been really hands on and enjoy working in the lab, and they are working on the latest equipment all the time.”
Photo: courtesy of UNWRA