Volunteers Today, Future Professionals Tomorrow: How TYO Empowers Youth for Careers

According to the World Bank Job Report (2013), youth unemployment rates are extremely high in many countries around the world, which is mostly due to a lack of experience in life, leadership, enterprise and communication skills. To help reduce rates of youth unemployment in Palestine, TYO aims at giving graduate and undergraduates students the critical professional experience needed to develop the skills for a successful future- and accomplishes this through various programs, like TYO’s Youth Service Learning Program (YSL) and the Women's Empowerment Program. Volunteers take part in a Core Child Program class.

As aforementioned, the World Bank Job Report found that the unemployment rates amongst women are higher than men because of the traditions, norms and values of many communities around the globe that control a woman's choices for her future career. Because of this, in places like Palestine- where these social norms play a serious role in a young woman's future- there should be social protections that empower women to expand beyond the traditional realm. TYO is working to accomplish this for young women by providing them with the basic skills they need to start their small business through entrepreneurship programs, like the current Fostering Women Entrepreneurs in the Middle East (FWEME) initiative. Through FWEME, women have the chance to learn more about how to start a small businesses and gain confidence to take their enterprise to the next level. It also helps them to learn about more opportunities regionally and abroad, as TYO connects entrepreneurs with different organizations and conferences in the Middle East and globally. By improving their economic situation and gaining independence, women are provided with more social protection, and feel more empowered to challenge the traditional norms that would keep them from working.

The World Bank report also found that the high unemployment rates amongst graduates and undergraduates are attributed to their lack of professional skills. This is why it's critical that youth gain practical experience to develop important traits and talents needed to successfully enter the workforce. These skills include life, communication and leadership abilities- and knowledge of the private sector world, as well.  TYO’s Youth Service Learning Program (YSL) seeks to ensure youth in Palestine have the opportunity to grow professionally and acquire the knowledge needed to move forward through volunteerism. YSL Volunteers receive a three-month experience working in TYO's International Internship Program and Core Child Program, where they assist the classrooms and with translation. The YSL program helps increase team building abilities, improve time management, and strengthen communication. Moreover, volunteers receive intensive training to learn more about the importance of being a leader in the classroom and techniques to help them to achieve that by the end of the session. These experiences have helped multiple volunteers obtain jobs after their service at TYO, like former volunteer Hassan Sayeh who recently got a job as an engineer after his time at TYO, and current volunteer Mai Masood, who recently began working part-time in her village. Mai cites that "TYO helped me to better my communication and leadership skills to enable me get a job". 

Through success stories like these, we know there's progress being made in Palestine- and as the prospects for youth employment increases in Palestine,  we look forward to the day when the World Bank report figures of youth unemployment decrease globally.

This program - as part of Student Training and Employment Program (STEP!) - is sponsored in part by the Abdul Hamid Shoman Foundation.

- Ruba Hafayda is the Volunteer Coordinator at TYO.