Caterpillar Foundation Pledges Support for Youth in Middle East and North Africa

The Caterpillar Foundation has partnered with Global Communities to help improve job opportunities and work conditions for youth in Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen. The three-year partnership between the two organizations includes a fund of $4.4 million to prepare youth for the labor market and job placement.

The Middle East and North Africa Youth Empowerment Strategy (MENA-YES) will focus on young people in the age group of 15 to 29. It will give special attention to improving conditions for disadvantaged youth, women, individuals with low to medium level skills, rural youth and individuals working in hazardous conditions.

The MENA-YES program is critically valuable, considering the region’s rates of youth unemployment, which are the highest in the world. David Weiss, president and CEO of Global Communities, said: “Given the size of rural populations in the region, illiteracy rates, underemployment and employment that is transient, cyclical and short-term, these estimates are probably low. The numbers are likely to worsen over the next decade, given the high number of youth entering the labor markets. These problems make the Middle East North Africa region ripe for this kind of partnership, which directly helps those most affected by the dire labor market and ensures that they have the training and jobs to support themselves and their families.”

MENA-YES will foster relationships with the private sector and potential employers to ascertain the exact quality, scale and timing of required skills to ensure successful placement of trainees. Global Communities already has an 18-year presence in the region, and will provide demand-driven training to up to 1,920 youth to prepare them for job opportunities. Out of the program participants placed in internships, apprenticeships or receiving technological training, at least 60 percent will be ready to be employed or to receive additional training of six months upon completion of program activities. An additional thousand youth will receive training in business management, marketing and finance skills to help them development entrepreneurial capabilities.

The president of Caterpillar Foundation, Michele Sullivan, said: “The Caterpillar Foundation is delighted to partner with Global Communities to address one of the most pressing needs facing the Middle East and North Africa. This is a forward-looking, regionally focused program, which will leverage public and private sector expertise to bring about the greatest positive impact on community needs.”

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