In an effort to make sure students are graduating with skills the labour market needs, Egypt is expanding its network of career development centres at universities and creating a new central unit to coordinate their work.
The new central unit will be located in the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
Mohamed El-Shinawi, a ministry advisor for international relations and research agreements, told Al-Fanar Media that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) would fund the new unit, which will include representatives from the private sector to share their knowledge of what the market needs with academic experts at universities.
The minister of higher education, Ayman Ashour, and the director of USAID’s Education and Health Office in Egypt, Wick Powers, met earlier this month to discuss the creation of the new unit as part of the Egypt Vision 2030 development plan.
In a statement, the ministry said the goal was to make sure university students were graduating with the skills the local, regional and international labour markets need.
The country is beefing up its career development efforts at universities to make sure students are graduating with the skills the local, regional and international labour markets need.
The unit will try to ensure that the career development centres at universities are providing appropriate training programmes that cover soft skills, technical skills and entrepreneurship. Its work will also include regular communication with employers to ensure that educational programmes are providing the right skills for present and future jobs, the ministry statement said.
Expanding Career Development Efforts
El-Shinawi said career development centres were already in place at 12 Egyptian universities. The ministry wants to increase the number to 30 centres in 22 public universities within the next two years.
The American University in Cairo has been running the University Centres for Career Development (UCCD) project, which started five years ago as a cooperation between the ministry and USAID.
The project is based on building the professional abilities of final-year students at participating universities. It also runs a variety of labour market studies linking universities and businesses.
The new central unit in the higher-education ministry will start work before the end of the year, the ministry statement said. It will organise conferences with student representatives to discuss how to achieve their professional development goals.
El-Shinawi said there are currently 3.6 million students at public, national, and private universities in Egypt, and that about 500,000 students graduate annually.
The project to beef up the career development centres could affect how Egyptian universities are ranked globally, El-Shinawi said, because graduates’ employment rates are a factor in most rankings.
An official with USAID said the agency was dedicated to supporting the Egyptian government in improving education, especially in the area of providing university students with the competitive skills that help them find work after graduation.
“What is required is that the relevant parties define a strategy so that students get the experience the labour market needs.”Safwat Al-Alam, A professor in the Faculty of Mass Communication at Cairo University
The official, who asked not to be named, added that the agency gave grants for student training programmes as part of its annual aid to Egypt. Creating a central unit to study the labour market and provide professional development is very significant, the USAID official said.
Safwat Al-Alam, a professor of public relations and advertising at Cairo University’s Faculty of Mass Communication, believes the new unit will increase the number of university graduates who find employment because it will remind them of the skills the labour market needs during their studies.
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Alam said there were new jobs not covered by university curricula, but the new unit would recommend new curricula so students can keep pace with labour market developments.
There should be controls and a comprehensive vision of the new unit’s work to ensure success, he added. “What is required is that the relevant parties define a strategy so that students get the experience the labour market needs.”
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