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UNRWA holds forum on technical and vocational training in Amman
Experts from across the five UNRWA fields of operations came together in Amman last week to share the achievements and challenges in providing quality and relevant Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) to about 6,882 Palestine refugee youth. The TVET professionals from Syria, Lebanon, the occupied Palestinian territory and Jordan discussed how they could strengthen the implementation of the UNRWA TVET strategy, formally endorsed in 2014, to enhance the responsiveness of the programme to the ever-evolving needs of the labor market.
Principals of the Vocational Training Centres (VTC) emphasized that the implementation of the TVET strategy requires the commitment and support of all stakeholders within UNRWA, as well as partners in the labor market and donor community. The forum provided a key opportunity to share these experiences and discuss moving forward on the nine distinct areas of the TVET Strategy.
TVET experts from across the five fields described challenges being faced in their efforts to implement the strategy, sharing innovative practices applied to help increase access to decent employment for vulnerable Palestinian refugees. In Syria, employment of TVET graduates is adversely affected by the conflict, but the Damascus Training Centre is working to strengthen the entrepreneurial skills of their students. In response to the obstacles facing Palestine refugees seeking employment in Lebanon, awareness-raising and advocacy initiatives are being undertaken to educate refugees and employers about the opportunities available to them. In both the West Bank and Lebanon, partnerships are being created with the business community to increase prospects for TVET graduates. VTCs in Gaza are increasing outreach to target vulnerable groups, such as women and persons with disabilities, to enhance their engagement in relevant TVET courses. Decreasing abject poverty rates in the Gaza Strip through delivering relevant, inclusive and responsive TVET programming continues to be a priority.
The importance of tracking the trajectories of UNRWA TVET graduates was discussed at the forum as part of evaluating the programme as a whole. “The TVET forum is very important as it reflects the Agency’s aspirations and commitment for promoting the livelihoods of youth, particularly the vulnerable refugee groups, through reorienting TVET towards a more efficient and responsive programme,” said Salim Shehadeh, head of the TVET unit at Headquarters (Amman).
Dr Caroline Pontefract, UNRWA Director of Education, encouraged the participants to think of the TVET Strategy as only the beginning as the Agency moves to implement its Medium Term Strategy (MTS 2016-2021). She stressed that it takes a collective effort to ensure that UNRWA TVET programme lives up to expectations in regards to supporting young Palestine refugees in securing a decent livelihood for themselves and their families.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
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