The day after I got back to my village from the Library workshop, I left for an Employability training at Peace Corps Morocco headquarters in Rabat with my Moroccan counterpart Achraf, a 27-year old construction worker, plumber, and electrician in town. The UNDP cites the employment to population ratio (age 15 +) is 45.9; the total unemployment rate (% of labor force) is 9.2; and youth unemployment rate (% of labor force ages 15-24) is 19.1. The labor force participation rate of females (age 15 +) is 26.5 and males 75.8.
Peace Corps and USAID developed an Employability manual like the Life Skills and Leadership manual, which is also being translated into Arabic by PC staff. We’re the first group to be trained using the manual. The curriculum is as follows:
Unit 1: Motivation Sessions: Imagining Your Life and Work
Imagining Your Ideal Future
What Do I Bring to the World of Work?
Keeping the Goal in Sight: Jobs Available in the Community
Keeping the Goal in Sight: Talking to Employers
Imagining Your Ideal Job
Overcoming Challenges to Our Goals
Planning for the Future
Unit 2: Information Sessions: Preparing for the World of Work
Presenting Yourself: Appropriate Dress and Body Language
Presenting Yourself: Creating a Resume/CV, Part 1
Presenting Yourself: Creating a Resume/CV, Part 2
Presenting Yourself: The Job Interview
Unit 3: Practice Sessions
Let’s Practice: Interview in the Community
Unit 4: Application Sessions: Getting and Keeping a Job
Finding Job Leads
Applying For a Job
Effective Listening at Work
Managing Priorities at Work
Addressing Common Challenges at Work
Crossing the Bridge: Course Wrap-up
Before attending the training, Achraf and I conducted a focus group on employability in our village. We asked 18 – 30-year olds, including high school dropouts, university educated, employed, unemployed, what they considered to be their skills, talents, and abilities to be. We also asked them to describe their hopes, aspirations, and dreams for the future and their views on employability opportunities in our community. What challenges do they face to achieve employment? What differences exist between men and women in terms of employability? What would be the best way to prepare youth for employment?
According to our sample survey, youths’ biggest asset is their education. They have high school, university, and vocational school diplomas. Many say they want to find a job, get married, and start a family, and others say they don’t know what they want to do in the future. Not all young women want to work. The main employability opportunities in our area are factory work and seasonal agricultural labor (watermelon and cactus fruit) though these jobs require long hours in tough conditions for little pay. The young men don’t look forward to those prospects though many women work in the factories with no complaints.
At the training, we reviewed the manual’s curriculum, goals, and objectives, lesson planning, and good facilitation skills. Then we split into groups to work on different presentations and receive feedback from Peace Corps staff and each other. My group presented “Imagining Your Ideal Future.”
While we were away the provincial governor came to town to inaugurate a new youth vocational center and a woman’s center. This is extremely exciting news and with perfect timing for our Employability programming. The two-story youth vocational center has lots of space for clubs and associations: there is a conference room with a projector, computer room, and music room with new instruments like a keyboard, guitars, violins, and ouds. The woman’s center also has a computer room, a sewing room with sewing machines, and hairdressing room. Both centers are very impressive. I only wish I could have been present at the opening ceremonies but my counterparts did a really good job at organizing them. My Darjia tutor Mustapha and counterpart Youssef started new English and Japanese clubs at the new youth vocational center and held sample lessons during the opening.
This fall season will bring many new and exciting projects to our youth center with the opening of a community library, literacy programs, and starting our Employability coaching. I am hoping that Simohamed with the Library club and Achraf will continue to take the lead, and I will assist when needed. I will, of course, continue my English classes and American cultural events with my counterpart Youssef and the Life skills and leadership program with Souhaib. Now I will take a well-deserved vacation to Spain to see my family, relax, and study for the GREs.