New digital platform to upskill Lebanon’s youth and link them to the job market
UNICEF and World Bank launch ‘Forastech’ with Forward MENA
Beirut, 14 September 2023 – A new national online learning platform ‘Forastech’ will provide young people in Lebanon with access to affordable, subsidized and easily accessible digital skills learning endorsed by global tech giants like Microsoft, LinkedIn, and AWS. The certificates granted by these industry leaders will not only amplify their skills, but also open doors to specialized employment opportunities.
UNCEF and the World Bank launched the ‘Forastech’ platform at the Grand Serail in Beirut. Developed under the PROSPECTS program and funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the platform aims to empower, educate, and uplift young people aged between 17 and 32 years from all socio-economic backgrounds in Lebanon. The platform is implemented by Forward MENA, an NGO launched by Beirut Digital District to address the talent gap between education outcomes and labor market needs and develop the digital skillset of youth.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati said “today we celebrate the launch of “Forastech” in Lebanon, an important and necessary initiative to develop the capabilities and skills of young people. In these delicate circumstances that our country is undergoing, it is necessary to direct efforts and investments towards strengthening the skills and developing the capabilities of youth in Lebanon, because Lebanon's lasting wealth is its human capital, especially its youth capacities”. He pointed out that "this project is necessary because it contributes to enhancing job opportunities and improving the economy by developing and enhancing their skills, so that promising young people have greater opportunities to obtain and sustainable jobs."
Under ‘Forastech’, partnerships have also been developed with the Ministries of Education and Higher and Education, Social Affairs, Labor, Youth and Sports, as well as the Office of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform (OMSAR) to ensure the platform caters specifically to the needs of Lebanon's most vulnerable youth.
Ambassador of the Netherlands to Lebanon Hans Peter van der Woude said “I am delighted that through the Dutch funded Prospects Partnership, the World Bank and UNICEF, together with the private tech sector, are delivering 21st century skills for 21st century jobs, for the 21st century youth.”
Through ‘ForasTech’, users can review the market's most in-demand careers and current trends, compare their skills against selected careers to pinpoint a learning development pathway and receive a job-matching scorecard against the career they select. They can also receive recommendations for learning pathways, as well as support and guidance to identify, prepare and apply for jobs that are accessible through the platform itself.
"Our rapid assessment for the year 2022 revealed that 58% of youth in Lebanon are not optimistic about finding a job in the future. In such a time of crisis, 'Forastech' represents a hope of transformation for our youth, a pathway to unlock their full potential, and a unique opportunity in their pursuit of meaningful careers” said Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative in Lebanon. “Our goal is to align their skills with their aspirations and provide them with access to in-demand skills relevant to today's labor market and beyond. 'Forastech' promotes work-based learning opportunities and career guidance, helping them navigate the challenging terrain of employment."
‘Forastech’ aims to support 5,000 eligible youth in completing free training courses on the platform, out of which 1,000 are expected to complete free certificates, and 200 are expected to secure a work opportunity. Certificates signed by Microsoft, LinkedIn, and AWS among others will boost their skills and qualifications in specialized areas, most demanded by employers.
“Forastech is more than just a tool. It represents a comprehensive learning journey that builds on unique partnerships with some of the finest local and global tech firms and training providers,” said Jean-Christophe Carret, World Bank Middle East Country Director. “Working closely with the government and stakeholders across various sectors, the World Bank remains strongly committed to support Lebanon's digital transformation and empower its youth to harness the benefits of the digital revolution.”
The ‘Forastech’ platform will cater to a diverse range of young people, whether they seek to upskill in software development, data, artificial intelligence (AI), marketing design, financial administration, customer relationship management (CRM), or content and document processing.
Mouhamad Rabah, President of Forward MENA, explained that ‘Forastech’ aligns with our mission to arm Lebanon's youth with the digital skillset required to seize the opportunities of today and tomorrow. Our partnership with UNICEF and the World Bank allows us to close the gap between education outcomes and the ever-evolving needs of the labor market through state-of-the-art online programs at discounted certifications”.
To learn more about ‘Forastech’ and join us in reshaping the future of Lebanon's youth, please visit www.forastech.org.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.org/lebanon/.