Thanks to the generous contributions of donors like the European Union, DG-Near, UNRWA is able to provide vocational training opportunities for more than 1,500 Palestine refugees in Syria. This training has proven to be a vital lifeline in a region deeply affected the conflict in Syria, which in 2019 has entered its eighth year.
When Mustafa Dibben 16, graduated from the UNRWA Training Centre in Homs, he did not have to wait long before he found himself a job. While he studied for a certificate in air-conditioning (AC) maintenance, he often stopped by an AC repair shop just down the street from the training centre. The store belonged to Tala Taher. Mustafa was offered a position with Tala within a month of graduating. “He is the third graduate of Homs Training Centre I have hired,” Taher says with a smile. There was no need for a trial period or test, he says. Hiring somebody with an UNRWA training certificate gives him confidence that his new hire is well trained and right for the job. “I know he has the right training and knowledge,” he says. Mustafa is pleased too, “I am very happy, I enjoy working here. I really like the variety in this business, we fix ACs, but also refrigerators and other types of cooling systems.” Every month, Mustafa saves part of his 25.000 SYP salary. “I have a piggybank at home and am saving up to buy tools, so I can start my own workshop one day,” he says proudly.
UNRWA vocational centres play an active role in ensuring that their graduates find employment once they graduate. One of the most successful ways to ensure this is to offering on-the job training. When Dina Qaddoura 21, completed her mechatronics course at the UNRWA Damascus Training Centre in Damascus, she knew she would have a job the next day. As part of her two-year course combining mechanical engineering, control theory, computer science and electronics she took part in on-the job training. When she graduated, the company offered her a job. "Mechatronics graduates can work in any company and are in demand as more and more products are becoming smarter,” she says. “The high-quality vocational training provided at the Centre prepared us for the job market and gave me the power to be creative and reach my goals," Dina added. She has since offered an even better job, earning SYP 90,000 per month at a private electronics company.
UNRWA provided vocational training to 1,500 Palestine refugees in 2018. Funding from donors including the European Union has also allowed the Agency to introduce new short courses, such as hairdressing and welding. This allows a wider range of Palestine refugees to benefit from the UNRWA training services.
Obeida Shaabi is a short-term UNRWA training centre graduate. He managed to start his own business thanks to the training he received. The 31 year-old proudly looks around his hairdressing shop, with a faux brick wall, a large mirror, and a prominent place for his UNRWA short course diploma. He had been working in a hair salon for a decade but had always hoped to open his own establishment. He enrolled in an UNRWA short training course in 2017. Two months later, he graduated with a diploma and a set of tools to help him get started including a trimmer and a hairdryer. “These tools are the foundation of my shop,” he says. He initially dreamed of running a women’s salon, but this was, “difficult due to the culture of the camp.” Most women prefer to have their hair styled by other women. In the future, he hopes to run a hairdressing salon for both men and women. Until then he will have to content himself with cutting the hair of his two daughters, 10-day-old Mouna and 2 year-old Joury and his wife. But he still has hope, “My mother-in-law also lets me do her hair!” he says proudly.