Making Cents International has been providing technical assistance in the area of workforce development for the Lebanon Industry Value Chain Development (LIVCD) project, a five-year, $41.7 million U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) program implemented by DAI, aimed at improving Lebanon’s economic stability and providing income-generating opportunities for small business while creating jobs for the rural population, in particular women and youth. Making Cents has been improving existing pre-employment training offerings in the food processing industry, based on the input from key stakeholders – local Technical and Vocational Training (TVET) institutes and private sector employers. Making Cents developed the following process that allows for a demand-driven, cost-effective, pre-employment training and technical assistance:
- Understanding Pre-Employment Priorities – Making Cents worked jointly with the LIVCD team to capture pre-employment training priorities for employers/private sector actors (demand side) and to better understand the strengths, gaps, and constraints of existing pre-employment training offerings (supply side). This process focused generated a consensus on where the “smallest big changes” might occur within the current pre-employment training to better align aspirations, expectations and priorities of employers, TVETs, and prospective employees. As a result, Making Cents facilitated effective integration of TVET interns, with a focus on developing their entrepreneurial mindsets, skillsets, and toolsets, into food processing firms through an ‘internship orientation process’
- Integrated Capacity Building – Based on the identified priorities, Making Cents co-designed and co-delivered a series of capacity-building activities to LIVCD and its private sector and TVET partners in the processed foods and rural tourism (food services) industries to address pre-employment needs. This process was conducted through site visits to multiple employers involved in providing internships to the corresponding TVET students. During these meetings, strategies for enhancing the existing internship activities were further co-developed and ground-truthed by employers. Next, Making Cents met in parallel with administrative and teaching staff at the partner TVET to gain their input into how best to operationalize suggested enhancements to the existing internship program. A testing and piloting process proceeded of final development and implementation of the “Fast-Start Internship Training Camp”.
This “Fast-Start Internship Training Camp” is comprised of 6 sessions that prepare youth for successful internships. This is done by focusing on the key behaviors and attitudes that employers identified are essential to success. This training camp focuses on preparation process to be able to apply these key skills in the internship setting. Successful internships allow youth to:
- Further developing key soft and technical skills
- Learning more about the kind of jobs you might be good at and interested in
But the ultimate success perhaps comes from turning an internship into a job – either with the employer from an internship, or with another employer who youth are able to model their positive skills and attitude.
In conjunction with the development of the “Fast-Start Internship Training Camp”, a collaborative capacity building process for TVET’s internship staff took place with the TVET Director and the school’s Internship Coordinator to put in place a multi-step, immersive, professional development process for the TVET Internship Coordinator that included shadowing:
- Development of the “Fast-Start Internship Training Camp” curricular building blocks and Trainer’s Guide
- Design of overall enhancements to the existing internship program – including carrying out a joint mapping exercises regarding ways all elements of the current program could be better coordinated, aligned and improved. This design analyzed the pre-internship activities, onboarding, internship activities, off-boarding, and post internship activities.
- Test the pilot “Fast-Start Internship Training Camp” curricular building blocks – including opportunities for co-facilitation
- Model the delivery of the full “Fast-Start Internship Training Camp” workshop while briefing and de-briefing sessions and coaching small group work during the workshop.
To date, Making Cents International’s activities have contributed to efforts to provide 21st century employment opportunities for youth while improving linkages between firms and other actors throughout the value chain and increase the gross value of products and services in local and export markets. The successful model that has been achieved through co-designed and co-delivered capacity building in local firms and TVETs has been replicated in the LIVCD project’s own internship program.