September 27, 2018

Linking Syrian and Jordanian Job Seekers with Employers for Long-Term Success

Written by Anne G. Bitga, Manager, Technical Services, Making Cents International

This article originally appeared on Making Cents International’s website. Reposted with permission.

Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) Jordan hired Making Cents to develop tools they could use to better link Syrians and Jordanians with long-term jobs in two industries with high hiring potential – garment and furniture. In particular, NRC required tools focused on private-sector engagement that would help them better understand employer skills needs and develop partnerships with employers in order to source ongoing employment opportunities. NRC also requested that the tools support the screening of job seekers for their interests and experience.

NRC’s demand for these tools comes in response to a changing policy environment in Jordan. With the Syrian war in its seventh year, nearly 13 million Syrians have been displaced from their homes, and over 5.6 million individuals have fled Syria as refugees, the majority to neighboring countries. Host-country responses to the refugee influx have varied, particularly with regard to Syrians’ rights to pursue economic opportunities. In Jordan, the government initially restricted Syrian refugees’ right to work, but with the signing of the Jordan Compact with the international community in February 2016, Jordan has relaxed these restrictions, promising, among other changes, to provide 200,000 Syrians with work permits in specified sectors. Although progressive policies governing Syrians’ legal working rights have been instituted in Jordan, in reality, a limited number of Syrians have been able to secure work permits and formal employment due to factors such as lack of information about policy changes and hesitance to formalize employer relationships.

Recognizing these challenges, NGOs such as NRC are looking for ways to link Syrian refugees, along with vulnerable Jordanians, to available jobs. Using the “Scaling Demand-Driven Training Programs: A Framework” and “Demand-Driven Training for Youth Employment Toolkit”, Making Cents leveraged global best practice “Demand-Driven Training” (DDT) models to develop the Compatibility Toolkit that will support NRC in creating these linkages in the garment and furniture industries.

Employer Engagement

The DDT approach starts with the employer – understanding their skills needs and recruitment, hiring, and retention challenges. Once that is clear, a sourcing, screening, filtering, and training system can be designed to select and place well-prepared job seekers. Thus, as a starting point, Making Cents met with employers operating within the two focus industries to inform the development of the Compatibility Toolkit. Based on these discussions, we developed an employer engagement process for NRC comprised of the following steps:

1. Understanding an employer’s labor needs. Making Cents developed interview tools, to be used with hiring managers and representatives from human resource departments, that surface information regarding the technical and behavioral competencies required for various entry-level jobs. By focusing on an employer’s business model and labor needs, NRC can gain information critical for the development of training material and matching of job seekers to fit specific job profiles.

2. Assessing an employer’s partnership potential for a long-term job placement relationship. Making Cents developed a decision-making matrix for NRC that outlines key considerations of long-term partnership potential. Considerations in the matrix include such issues as the employer’s staffing needs, their willingness to collaborate, and alignment with NRC’s values. Understanding an employer’s position on various topics like these helps to assess the possibility for an ongoing relationship.

3. Defining the partnering relationship. If a partnership is to be developed, the parameters of the relationship, including the scope of planned collaboration, must be defined. To assist NRC with establishing fruitful employer partnerships, Making Cents developed a checklist of possible collaborative activities to serve as a guide to formalizing employer relationships, including suggestions for possible collaborative activities to take with an employer partner, such as co-creating curricula and jointly conducting trainings.

Job Seeker Engagement

NRC Jordan, directly and through their partner network, recruits job seekers and organizes job-specific trainings when job placement opportunities with an employer are identified. To complement and enhance NRC’s existing job seeker engagement activities, Making Cents developed a holistic and data-driven job seeker screening and filtering process as part of the Toolkit that fits within NRC’s existing activities. As a result, the NRC job seeker engagement process includes:

1. Conducting a multi-stage screening process. To support NRC gain an in-depth understanding of individual job seekers interests, skills, and experience, Making Cents developed numerous information gathering tools that help determine possible ‘fit’ with employer work requirements. Screening criteria were included to provide NRC guidance on how to short-list and select motivated, skilled candidates for open employer partner positions.

2. Filling job seeker skills’ gaps with training. Recognizing that NRC clients, like any job seekers, will possess some, rather than all, of the requisite employability and technical skills for a job, Making Cents provided guidance on how training can be held in partnership with employers to build job seeker skills. The Toolkit also outlines how training can serve as an opportunity to further assess job seeker’s alignment with a job, by using a training observation matrix tool Making Cents developed.

3. Supporting job seekers after placement. Once placed into a job, it is critical to provide ongoing support to employees to help them navigate their job and the work environment. To that end, Making Cents provided NRC with guidelines and resources on mentoring models that can be used to support Syrians and Jordanians placed in jobs.

To learn more about the Compatibility Toolkit and how NRC Jordan is using the tools with Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians, attend our session “Supporting Job Placement and Self-Employment for Refugee Youth: Lessons and Insights from Jordan” at this year’s Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit. The annual Global Youth Economic Opportunities (GYEO) Summit convenes more than 550 technical experts from 50+ countries committed to advancing the social and economic well-being of young people globally.