Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MoICT), on Monday, signed agreements with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and three Jordanian universities.
The agreements aim to enhance the skills required by university graduates in Jordan’s information and communication technology (ICT) sector, with a view to boost their employability, thus stimulating growth in this sector and encouraging skills development across the country.
Under these agreements, IFC, a World Bank institution, and MoICT will help Jordan University of Science and technology (JUST), Balqa Applied University (BAU) and Philadelphia University, review their curricula in order to include professional competence skills needed by the ICT labor market, making it easier for the graduates to get job opportunities and retain their positions in this fast-growing and competitive market.
Both the IFC and MoICT will also support the alumni offices at the three universities in building graduate tracking systems enabling these academic institutions to gather more precise information about their graduates’ performance in the labor market and provide data related to the more prevalent sectors in the labor market, the percentages of graduates who pursue their higher studies, and the more popular specialization areas.
"There is a big demand for skilled labor among ICT employers," Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Azzam Sleit said. "Our partnership with IFC, and with public and private educators, will help us meet the demand for skilled labor, improve the competitiveness of the sector and support its growth," he added.
The ICT sector is expanding at a rate of 25 percent annually, making it the fastest growing industry in Jordan. It includes more than 400 companies and contributes up to 14 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). That makes it a key engine of growth in a country where youth unemployment stands at 27 percent.
JUST University President, Abdullah Al-Malkawi, said that his university "is a leading institution in the scientific, medical, engineering and research specializations and continuously strives to advance its academic performance by activating modern ICT means and enhancing cooperation and joint action with regional and international scientific institutions." He also spoke highly of the Faculty and Computer and Information Technology at the university, which provides exceptional education to arm students with the required computer knowledge, contribute to building a corps of exceptional leaders in the various technical areas, and establishing strong partnerships with the industry to meet the labor market’s changing needs.
Balqa Applied University President, Nabil Shawaqfa, said the university mission "is depicted in building flexible educational structures concerned with high academic, vocational and applied levels in order to open future horizons for their students and meet the requirements of the labor market." He added that this partnership with IFC and MoICT will enrich the University’s efforts to incorporate best practices for work and employment skills in their curricula with a view to increasing job opportunities for graduates.
Philadelphia University President, Mutaz Al-Sheikh Salem, said his University’s mission is to "be one of the most highly recognized Jordanian University well-known educational conglomerates in Jordan in the spheres of teaching and learning, research, and community services according to international standards." He noted that the agreement "reflects the University’s interest in meeting international standards for education and developing plans and curricula at both the national and international levels, with a view to cope with the requirements of the age and the university’s keen interest in attracting students who are qualified for higher education in Jordan and the Arab countries." "This partnership with a group of distinguished Jordanian universities translates the academic institutions’ interest and dynamism in activating sustainable mechanisms for supplying the labor market with people with the necessary skills and competences," said IFC Principal Country Officer in Jordan, Ahmed Attiga.
He added that "this initiative translates the universities’ ability to build a knowledge-based economy with the view to enhancing the sector’s abilities and meeting its requirements by supporting it with competent human resources." The agreements are part of IFC’s E4E Initiative for Arab Youth. Active since 2012 in Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco, the program focuses on partnering with the private and public sector to help bridge the skills gap between employers and graduates and equip young people with the abilities that employers require. Advancing these promising sectors will be achieved only through cooperation among all the stakeholders.
The project is supported by IFC development partners the Netherlands, Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, and UK Aid.