In 2007, JRF joined forces with Business In The Community (BITC) and leading hotels to begin the Youth Career Initiative (YCI). As a result of this collaboration, Jordan became the first country in the Middle East to implement such a program.
YCI was created to empower disadvantaged and vulnerable youth, by equipping them with relevant life and work skills and exposing them to a successful business environment and professionals who will enable them to make informed career choices and become employable. The Program’s strategy focuses on raising awareness on employment opportunities available for youth in the hotel industry, encouraging them and their parents to consider work in hotels.
To this end, YCI offers participants a unique employment opportunity, in addition to exposure through professional education and experience. The Program equips youth with industry-specific skills, as well as basic life skills in communication, teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving, information management, personal management, and life-long learning. These skills are not taught at the school level, yet they are necessary to facilitate the entry of youth into a challenging labor market, and as a result, participants in the Program can enhance their potential, gain self-esteem and develop the ability to make better, more informed decisions regarding their future, as well as increase the opportunity of finding better paid jobs.
Under the Program, JRF contacts YCI graduates periodically to follow up on their progress. Records of these graduates’ career paths are kept, so as to monitor the success of the Program. Data has shown that over the past four years, approximately 70% were employed in hotels and other business-related industries, while 9% went back to resume their education upon recognizing its importance. All stakeholders in the Program make a concerted effort to ensure that graduates secure employment positions which are relevant to program objectives and rewarding to them.
The Program has achieved the following:
- 72 youth participants have successfully graduated from training courses with improved economic prospects to actively participate in the Jordanian workforce.
- 48 youth participants have successfully been employed in the hotel industry and tourism sector.
- 48 families have benefitted from the supplemental and regular income incurred by these employed youth.
- Seven YCI graduates have returned to the educational system.
- YCI graduates have become role models for other youth within their families, peer groups and communities, in turn making these individuals potential YCI candidates.
- Hotels have increased the percentage of qualified Jordanian staff, which indicates a general and increased acceptance of local participation in Jordan’s tourism industry.
- The number of annual YCI youth applications has increased, reflecting a positive cultural change in Jordanian youth. The current fifth cycle of the Program includes 25 youth, of whom two are female.