Tackling Youth Unemployment in Palestine with the World Bank

Tuesday, 12th September 2017

By Cooper Renfro, Associate at Social Finance

As a project team, we’ve spent an impressive 65 days in Ramallah since March of this year, and that’s even after a bothersome (i.e. massive) airline IT failure scuppered a few travel arrangements. Some of us are already on a first name basis with hotel staff and schwarma stand proprietors, yet others of us still manage to embarrass our hosts with our (lack of) pita eating technique.

It isn’t just the promise of sunny skies, warm weather and hospitality that bring us back. Alongside the Ministry of Finance and Planning (MOFP), the World Bank and DAI, we’re designing a $5m Development Impact Bond (DIB) to improve job outcomes for Palestinian youth. The World Bank’s approval of further funding for the Finance for Jobs project means that we’ll be taking a few more trips out in the next months to meet with MOFP, finalise design elements, work with service providers and speak with local investors.[1]

For some background, unemployment in Palestine is now approaching 30 percent, and remains stubbornly high, especially for youth and women.[1] A number of factors, on both the supply and demand sides, make the transition from education to employment difficult. Palestinian employers have reported that one of the critical barriers to hiring young graduates was a mismatch between the skills they require and those young people currently bring.

Our research suggests that the skills mismatch cannot be solved simply through the commissioning of additional skills training programmes. Rather, greater coordination, flexibility, adaptation and opportunism need to be at the centre of workforce development, ensuring that employers can effectively signal what skills are needed, and training and skills enhancement can adapt accordingly. This is where we see the DIB coming into play.

Our team is currently assessing applications from service provider consortia interested in delivering flexible youth training. We’ll soon begin a co-design phase with short-listed applicants during which we’ll refine investment proposals so as to secure investment and start training in Q1 of 2018.

[1] If you ever have an extra few minutes, feel free to peruse the Finance for Jobs project documentation.