The First Policy Dialogue At KAPITA
Drawing Better Policies to Bridge the Gap between the Needed Skills in the Job Market and Labor Market
The growth of the private sector relies essentially on the labor force's skills and the country's human resources. However, fresh graduates have been transitioning from their academic journey to the labor market with a poor set of skills that do not meet the job market requirements. Consequently, creating a pool of unskilled unemployed fresh graduates and a thirsty private sector for skilled workers.
This gap has been exacerbated by a few factors, including inadequate curricula, lack of training and workshops for students, the absence of real internship programs, and insubstantial graduation projects.
In order to bridge this gap, and from our core mission of building the human resources of Iraq, KAPITA Business Hub has arranged a policy dialogue session on the 15th of September, involving the main stakeholders from universities, private sector companies, training institutes, international organizations, and students to come together to discuss the root causes of this gap and how we can potentially cooperate to build a model that will result in a more skilled labor force.
KAPITA organized the session with the support of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ)
In order to understand the issue better and cover all aspects, the policy dialogue agenda consisted of five main pillars, including: The private sector's point of view, universities' point of view, ICT training centers' point of view, students' point of view, and international organizations and donors' point of view.
"I do not expect fresh graduates to have senior level tech skills as a telecommunication company employee, but I do expect them to know basic skills such as sending an email or writing a simple Microsoft Word document. These skills are, unfortunately, not taught in university curricula," said Anwar Abdulsattar HRBP Sr. Manager at Asiacell Communications PJSC when asked about the skills lacking in fresh graduates.
On the other hand, some of the issues highlighted by the university professors like Mr. Amjed Amjad Talal Al-Ezzi, Chief of Research and Development Division at UOT and Dr. Zaid Akram Thabit, Assistant Professor at Al-Nahrain University, said that the college hours predetermined by the government were far too short for any extracurricular activities. Alongside the excessive holidays; this left little room for the professors to teach any skill other than the curriculum, which was deemed not enough.
Another issue expressed by the students was the lack of orientation sessions before the school year starts, leaving them puzzled about the aim of their study and the expected career path ahead, including the required skills.
"Students are not exposed to the private sector enough to have a clear idea of what skills they need,” said Ali Al-Bawi, Executive Director at Doinc. "Our first priority is to create a private sector-rich environment before we work on soft and technical skills."
Despite the efforts of international organizations, there is still a gap between graduates' knowledge and the skills required in the private sector.
Donors tend to target unemployment and youth in most of their projects. In most cases, they are targeted at a small group of people. As effective as they are, they cannot change mindsets and skills fundamentally as a governmental action could. Education must be prioritized, and government should be encouraged to make those changes in education.
This was the first KAPITA policy dialogue session to address the topic. A second session will be held to follow up on the conclusions and implement an action plan with stakeholders.