SkillLab & Caritas Czech Republic in Iraq: Helping Refugees and Host Communities Pave their Way to Decent Work through Work Based Learning and Skills Discovery
Caritas Czech Republic in Iraq (CCR) recently joined the International Labour Organization (ILO) funded PROSPECTS project to work with SkillLab to provide Work Based Learning (WBL) training to its beneficiaries in Duhok and Nineveh, Iraq. The training covers 18 different sectors, including agriculture, aluminum works, and printing. In the WBL program, participants do real work and are involved in the production of real goods and services. CCR chose to distribute SkillLab to all potential beneficiaries and used the application to place beneficiaries in sectors to build skills-first pathways to decent work. Beneficiaries had a positive experience in using SkillLab to map WBL pathways, with some beneficiaries turning their WBL experience into full-time roles after successfully passing the job interview with the help of SkillLab.
Mary, SkillLab's main contact for the project, sat down with four WBL program beneficiaries, who used SkillLab, to collect their stories and share their experiences.
Noor Zaki is a 21-year-old woman who loves to paint and often shares her work on social media. Following her passion, she had worked as a painter and painting teacher before joining the WBL program. Ali Ehsan, a 22-year-old high school graduate who is currently looking for a job and still trying to find his passion. We also met Blind, an 18-year-old Kurdish high school student who has joined WBL program as he wanted to spend his summer vacation doing something useful for his future career. Finally, Noor Qusay shared her experiences with us. She was studying Physical Education and had a wide range of career interests that made it difficult for her to focus on a specific career pathway.
Young people joining the WBL program have very different motivations. For example, Noor Z. wanted to look for a job after the opportunities in her field became scarce, while Noor Q. wanted to gain some work experience and explore different careers. Once they were in the ILO and CCR WBL program, they were given access to SkillLab. Most of them had low expectations when they first heard about the tool. A short onboarding session with Caritas trainers quickly challenged their first impressions. “I imagined that it would be a traditional application, but I was surprised that it tackles lots of different fields and offers lots of recommendations that are relevant and professional,” said Ali, recalling his initial reaction.
The application was an eye-opener for me, as it helped me discover skills that I didn’t know I had. Now I value these skills more
All participants agreed that they had a positive experience using SkillLab. They found the skills assessment and career matching features to be very helpful. “The application was an eye-opener for me, as it helped me discover skills that I didn’t know I had. Now I value these skills more. It also helped me to know what skills I have that are my strength points and what skills I need to improve and further develop to fit in a specific career,” said Noor Z., who wanted to become a trainer. She also found some alternative careers in agriculture and textiles based on her existing skills.
Meanwhile, Ali's career interest is different from what he practiced in the WBL. His real passion is computers and the Internet. He was surprised to discover that he does not need to start from scratch to work in this sector: "I discovered through the application that I already have skills that are needed for the career field I am interested in." The SkillLab tool also helped him understand more about the skills he still needs to acquire to perform well in the IT sector. It motivated him to look for training opportunities to improve and expand his skills. He found some relevant online training, enrolled and, after completing the training, updated his skills in the application.
I discovered through the application that I already have skills that are needed for the career field I am interested in.
For Noor Q., using SkillLab is all about discovery. "The application helped me discover new skills that I did not know I had and it helped me realize that some things I could do are considered as skills," she said, referring specifically to the ability to use some computer software, such as Microsoft Word and Excel. She also discovered that her existing skills applied to different types of jobs in different industries, including marketing, office management, administration, finance, and even photography. All of this information served as guidance. "The application helped me know which direction to go and what skills to acquire as my next step," said Noor, who then decided to focus on office management and photography.
The application helped me know which direction to go and what skills to acquire as my next step
The participants also appreciated the SkillLab CV generator. Blind, for example, made it clear that he will use the CV generated by SkillLab when he starts applying for jobs. He found the CV to be very detailed and it was easy to generate it from the application, compared to having to go to a service provider for CV writing assistance. "Thanks to the app, I saw my skills written in front of me and linked to specific jobs, so now I feel more confident talking about the skills I have," said Blind while looking at his SkillLab CV. Even Noor Z. and Ali, who had previously worked on creating good CVs, agree that the SkillLab CV is more structured and makes them feel more confident when applying for jobs.
Thanks to the app, I saw my skills written in front of me and linked to specific jobs, so now I feel more confident talking about the skills I have
Lastly, Noor Q. felt that she had benefited much from SkillLab CV. When an office manager position opened up in a real estate company, she was motivated to apply. Noor chose to depend on SkillLab CV for her application. The CV helped her present herself in a comprehensive way and remember all her skills. "During the interview, the application helped me to be more confident and proud while communicating my skills," Noor admitted. Unsurprisingly, Noor was accepted for the office manager position. Her new experience from the WBL program and SkillLab helped her find a job she loves.
With all these positive experiences, Caritas Czech Republic beneficiaries have started to promote SkillLab to their friends and family. Noor Q. told the trainers about the application in her CV training, while Ali showed it to his friends who still use traditional CVs to find jobs. In conclusion, Blind says that the tool is great, but it is still not well known to everyone, so more promotion is needed so that everyone could benefit from it.
Does your organization also help young people with their career orientation? Would you like to support them with our digital solution? Contact us to find out more about SkillLab.
Since 2022, SkillLab and the ILO have been partners in the PROSPECTS project, funded by the Government of the Netherlands. The project aims to address the long-term challenges and needs of host and refugee communities in Iraq and promote sustainable solutions to build more inclusive, cohesive and productive societies. The ILO's key role in the project is to promote decent work by improving the employability of refugees and host communities by equipping them with better and more relevant skills.