In May 2018 in Jordan, friends Mohammad and Mohammad graduate from a vocational training program on a UNICEF scholarship.

A Job Skills Program Opens Doors for Young Syrian Refugees

UNICEF's Amaluna Youth Economic Engagement program is giving 30,000 young people in Jordan hope for the future.

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Eight years of conflict in Syria have disrupted the lives of millions and jeopardized the future of Syria's next generation. Host communities in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt have struggled to absorb the influx of 5.6 million Syrian refugees — including 2.5 million children — sharing resources and services and competing for jobs.

In Jordan, 39% of young people between the ages of 15 and 29 are out of school and unemployed. Many families cannot afford to send their children to school and job opportunities are limited. UNICEF is helping Syrian and Jordanian youth reach their full potential through the Amaluna Youth Economic Engagement program. With support from the Kuwait Foundations of the Advancement of Science (KFAS) and the Government of Canada, the Amaluna program is providing 30,000 young people with quality technical and vocational training in cosmetology, plumbing, hospitality, catering and food processing, garment manufacturing, customer care and call center operations.

"Women can do anything men can," said 26-year-old Sawsan, who joined the training program at Beit Souf, a cafe run entirely by women in Jerash, Jordan. "We can open shops, have our own projects and market them. Then we become equal in our community. My dream is to run my own project and market it not only locally but also internationally. I would love to have a pastry shop and bakery. With the training I'm receiving here, I can make it a reality." 

The first class of over 400 Syrian and Jordanian students — half of them female — graduated from the job skills training program at Luminus Education in May 2018.  

"I'm speechless! I'm so, so happy," said 19-year-old Syrian refugee Ahmad, a culinary arts graduate. "This scholarship gave me a chance to go back to study again after five years without studying. Being a refugee here in Jordan is such a difficult thing. I heard about this training program and that it is for free. Graduation day is quite a big deal."

The program includes employability, life skills and English language classes for each student, along with meaningful and sustainable employment opportunities through public-private partnerships. 

"It's a great feeling, because now I depend on myself. I have my own income," said Mariam, 19, who studied cosmetology to become a nail technician. 

"My message for youth who are at home, unemployed, is that you have to get out to achieve your dreams and don't stop when you're challenged," said Sawsan, the aspiring pastry chef. "Use your hands and work. You will succeed." 

"Given the right skills and opportunities, youth are in a unique position to become engaged, contribute to the economy and accelerate growth," said UNICEF Jordan Representative Robert Jenkins. "By strengthening life and employability skills, and providing pathways for engagement, we can empower youth to contribute positively to their communities."

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For over 70 years, UNICEF has been putting children first, working to protect their rights and provide the assistance and services they need to survive and thrive. With a presence in 190 countries and territories, UNICEF has helped save more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. 

Photo at top: Friends Mohammad and Mohammad graduated from the Amaluna vocational training program on a UNICEF scholarship in Jordan in May 2018. © UNICEF/UN0209583/Herwig

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