CAIRO: In 2004, the Ministry of Trade and Industry launched the Skills Development Project (SDP) to provide technical training for workers in different sectors. With a total budget of $12.5 million, one of the goals of the ambitious project was to raise awareness about the importance of technical training in a job market hungry for skilled labor.
The project was launched with little fuss and zero media coverage. Over the past four years, it has shied away from the media limelight because the ministry was worried that individual workers would approach the project for training. Instead, they planned to deal directly with businesses and organizations, hoping that in time, word would spread in the market so that businesses would approach them.
Four years later and the SDP has not come close to achieving its set goals and much of their allocated budget is still untapped. To this day, not enough organizations know about the services offered by the SDP, and so they finally decided to resort to the media to help them gain exposure to their target audience.
On Saturday, the media was introduced to the nascent project at a press conference in the Four Seasons First Residence, as well as to Nihal Abdel Hamid, director of the SDP, and Yasser Madi, the project’s public relations manager.
The project was an initiative undertaken by the Ministry of Trade and Industry in cooperation with the World Bank. The ministry provided 48 percent of the budget (around $6 million), while the World Bank provided 44 percent ($5.5 million). The remaining 8 percent (around $1 million) were donated by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and other businesses, which are the project’s main beneficiaries.
Originally it was supposed to run for four years, coming to an end in 2008, but it has been extended for two more years.
According to Abdel Hamid, the SDP works to develop and enhance technical expertise among Egypt’s labor force to cater to the market’s growing need for skilled workers in different fields. The project also hopes to set a model that can be recreated by the private sector.
“The project’s main goal is to increase awareness about the importance of technical training and its benefits to business development as well as the technicians’ professional status, she added.
Specialized consultants were selected to provide the different training courses, after which, institutions were chosen to sponsor the training programs. At the conclusion of each training program, the results are assessed based on effectiveness and benefit to the company.
The SDP was established to address the shortage of technical skills amid the growing demand in the market, a lack of organized training programs – especially technical training – and a high turnover rate reported by employers.
There is a dire need to provide on-the-job training to develop their productivity and get better output, Abdel Hamid said
So far, the SDP’s training program has benefited 456 SMEs, offering a total of 856 training programs to 10,161 workers. Since its inception, 55 consultants have partnered with the SDP to provide training.
The 14 project partners include NGOs, private businesses and chambers of commerce.