The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on all aspects of life in the Arab region. Extended lockdowns have had a severe impact on the economy, jobs and learning opportunities, especially for young people and women, in a region with the world’s highest unemployment rates for those groups and where they form the largest share of workers in the informal sector.
In Lebanon, the repercussions of the pandemic have been compounded by an acute financial and economic crisis, and by the Beirut Port explosion. In October 2020, the Ministry of Labour of Lebanon requested the technical assistance of ESCWA to benefit from a Coursera government initiative, created by the online learning platform to offer free certified learning licenses during the pandemic.
ESCWA partnered with Coursera to provide free certified learning opportunities for 25,000 Lebanese citizens. About 4,900 courses, some in Arabic, were offered, with certifications by some of the world’s best academic and research institutions. The courses provided both soft and hard skills, including leadership, management, communication, entrepreneurship, and data analysis.
ESCWA established a registration platform to recruit candidates, with a team of experts deciding on the criteria for registration. ESCWA then launched a promotional campaign on social and traditional media, targeting young people who had lost their jobs or whose education had been interrupted because of the pandemic, the explosion or the financial crisis. It also targeted women, persons with disabilities, and individuals who needed to upgrade their skills to address the mismatch between their training and the new skills required by the labour market.
A registration platform and related dashboard;
A media campaign which resulted in 25,000 licenses granted in two weeks;
The results benefited thousands of learners, who mostly opted mostly for skills related to new technologies.