Assisting refugees and host communities in Egypt to turn their skills into careers

ILO PROSPECTS Egypt in collaboration with Skilllab, a social start-up based in the Netherlands, and the Association of Businessmen in Alexandria (ABA), is piloting a skills-profiling application allowing refugees and host communities to assess and communicate their skills to potential employers.

News | 25 March 2021
The project has already reached 455 registered users, most of which are from refugee communities, in the governorate of Alexandria, exceeding its initial target within only four months of implementation.

The application uses artificial intelligence to compare users’ self-reported skills data with the European Classification of Skills and Competencies (ESCO) in order to identify missing skills, generate occupational profiles, and produce tailored CVs for job seekers. Individuals, as well as counsellors in public and private employment services, can use these profiles to pursue specific job-offers, and identify training needs – “matching people with opportunities”. At the end of the profiling process, job-seekers receive a comprehensive list of their skills, a list of the potential occupations they can aspire to with such skills, and a CV formatted and faithfully reflecting their previously indicated skills, experience and education.

Many job-seekers from refugee and Egyptian host communities have little access to e-mails, and smart devices or computers in general. To overcome these barriers and low digital literacy, the project organized a two-day training together with Vocational Training & Employment Center (VTEC) - the intervention’s implementing partner which operates under the auspices of ABA - to train career counsellors on guiding job seekers through the application. Following the training, a workshop was organized for job-seekers to complete a user profile from computers made available for them at the VTEC. Additionally, a tracer study conducted shortly after the training found that the majority of users found the application easy to use and many had utilized it to identify jobs and present themselves to employers. To amplify the application’s impact, PROSPECTS Egypt decided to integrate it into an apprenticeship programme that is currently being implemented to promote apprenticeship and employment in Alexandria, by selecting a number of registered job-seekers to join the programme.

Integrating Skilllab's application into the project's currently-running apprenticeship programme will create room for sustainable impact among refugee and Egyptian host communities, by further developing job-seekers' capacities and skills, and, as a result, increase their chances of being matched with relevant job opportunities.

Amir Obeid, Chief Technical Advisor for PROSPECTS in Egypt.
Furthermore, pattern recognition through the AI engine allowed the project to adapt the application to the Egyptian context, by identifying additional occupations, and modifying several skills and competencies in the ESCO classification, thus contributing to a clearer picture of the skills and competencies demanded by the Egyptian labour market. Following the success of the project, the young social start-up, Skilllab, raised an additional EUR 1.5 Million in seed funding from Rubio Impact Ventures, enabling them to double their efforts and deliver quality career services to all.