Jobs for Jordan
Project Name: Education for Employment Foundation (EFE)
Challenge: The Middle East has the highest youth unemployment rate of any region in the world, with some ten million young people looking for jobs. Although there are some booming industries, there's also a mismatch between what the colleges and universities are offering and what the labor market/force needs. For young people in the region, long-term unemployment can contribute to anger and frustration and even keep them from getting married and starting a family.
Solution: EFE provides professional training in a number of Middle Eastern countries with the goal of putting young people directly into jobs.
To better understand how EFE works, NOW on PBS traveled to Jordan—one of the Middle Eastern countries where the organization has set up shop. What makes EFE's program innovative is their decision to partner with local businesses to discover what specific skills are in demand. EFE doesn't just teach young people new skills; it lines up jobs for them before they begin classes. In Jordan, it offers career programs in land surveying, air conditioning/refrigeration, and teacher training. It also offers a 'workplace success' program, which trains unemployed university students and recent graduates the professional and communications skills needed to land their first job.
The visionary behind EFE is Ron Bruder, a New York businessman who has made millions in real estate. After the Sept 11 terrorist attacks, Bruder felt a need to connect with countries in the Middle East, so he set up EFE, with $10 million of his own money.
"After World War II, we had reached out to the countries that we had been fighting with months earlier, rebuilt their economies, and made long-term allies out of them. I felt we should be doing that in this region," Bruder tells NOW.
Bruder's initiative has spread beyond Jordan to Gaza, the West Bank, and Morocco, with programs planned for Egypt and Yemen. The organization receives financial backing from sources in the U.S., including the State Department, which has given $1.5 million to date. EFE has also secured funding from local Middle East organizations, and is looking to expand such initiatives.
Since opening its doors in Jordan two years ago, EFE has helped over 250 students across the region find jobs. "A drop in the bucket," admits Michael Haeger, president of EFE. But the organization expects that up to 1,000 young people will graduate in the coming year and hopes that the number of students enrolled in its programs will continue to grow. EFE also hopes its program will become a model for governments across the region.
Video: Jobs for Jordan