Three proposals to improve women’s school-to-work transition*
In general, women are less competitive in the labour market than men in Egypt, and women from poor backgrounds are the less competitive. However, when offered a ‘Job entry skills’ training, their chances of finding a decent job increased. Accordingly, the following should be taken into consideration in regard to improving women’s access to:
1- Improve learning and teaching facilities within universities and higher education institutions.
There is also an urgent and continuous need to strengthen the linkage between universities and employers, so as to ensure a better fit between educational programs, and job market needs. This requires among others: providing education for self-employment, and not just education for employment; Incorporating new pedagogical approaches, such as “learning-by-doing” (action-based learning); and taking into account the market impact of new types of entities delivering education and content (AfDB 2015)1.
2- Effective non-discriminatory ‘Job entry skill’ programs that enhance young women’s opportunities, increase their competiveness in finding a good job opportunity, and compromise for the lack of quality education for female public university graduates.
Several participants in the ethnological focus group discussions referred to the fact that the statutory texts governing the work contain no discrimination according to the sex of the employee in the public service, it is established that men and women are equal regarding salary. Although it is known in the academic literature that women have less Women’s School to Work Transition in the Arab Mediterranean Countries (AMC) 27 access to the high responsible jobs. In the private sector, it is believed that the employers prefer women because they can be granted a lower salary (DZ_FE_2)2.
Abridge the social gap for young women from poor background by providing fair chances in applying for jobs opportunities. The socio-economic gap among different classes in most Arab countries is widening. Education is one of the important factors that can abridge this gap, as stated by the youth themselves:
“...the state hasn’t taken enough decisions and measures to ensure their social inclusion starting with the professional insertion (DZ_FE)3”.
3- Strengthen the linkage between universities and employers in order to ensure a better fit between educational programs and job market needs.
Both public and private institutions should be viewed by universities as partners and customers. Close collaboration between companies and universities creates an eco-system that fosters job creation and new venture formation, and thus, boost opportunities for employment, and also self-employment. This can be achieved by creating more internship programs, establishing mentoring or coaching programs between students and executives or entrepreneurs, creating advisory bodies for schools to inform curriculum design, including professionals (and not only academics) in the faculty.
"The glaring lack of opportunities in the resort, as it exists in large cities and towns, highlights a truth of a bitter taste when knowing that there is no work for young people outside agriculture which is their only chance, knowing that the major factor of social inclusion is work…. The difference between the two levels of perception concerning the identification of the two categories of young, from a sociological point of view, undeniably refers to the reality of the role and status of the girl in this type of locality."(DZ_NI_2)4
Universities and schools need to do a better job at preparing students for successful and fulfilling careers. More specifically, they need to address students’ deficiencies in some categories including: goal setting, information gathering and analysis, quantitative skills, Women’s school-to-work transition in the AMC 28 innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship. Other critical areas include inter-personal skills, initiative taking, leadership, relationship building, and sense making. In particular, students need to be able to communicate well (orally and in writing) with different stakeholders, as well as to develop problem-solving and decision-making skills. Students who aspire to take a management position need to also develop a strategic thinking ability and be able to manage crises, and resolve conflicts. They should also be able to motivate and guide people and teams from diverse educational backgrounds, and work with different constituencies ranging from public and private sector institutions to non-governmental organizations, and civil society associations.
* These are the conclusions of the SAHWA paper “Scientific paper on school-to-work transition in the AMCs”, published on February 2017.
1. African Development Bank (AfDB): Fundamentally changing the way we educate students in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region; Working Paper – North Africa Policy Series, 2015.
2/3/4. SAHWA Ethnographic Fieldwork 2015