1.3.2 Don’t Reinvent the Wheel! Flexible Tools can be Re-Purposed Regionally and Globally
Part of the attraction of IT-based solutions in workforce development is that once created they can be adapted/localized to new contexts at relatively low cost. Deployment and localization of modular online tools to support the workforce development mission should, over time, yield lower costs per beneficiary served for donors and implementers—the essence of scalability.
Silatech, a Qatar-based organization with the mission of promoting youth employment in the Arabic-speaking world, in association with Microsoft, has developed an online platform that can be used by local partners to provide career counseling and professional mentoring to develop skills and provide support for individuals entering the job market. Originally developed by Microsoft in Egypt, the platform, Ta3mal (“works”) is a web-based (and 3G/4G) portal that connects individuals directly to counselors as well as advice from employers on particular skill sets desired for various fields. The counselors can also provide individualized support to directly address questions and challenges specific to the user. Individuals also gain access to over 400 online courses offered by Ireland-based MOOC provider, ALISON (Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online) that assist in developing hard and soft skills to improve employability. Ta3mal is currently being implemented (by locally-driven partnerships) in 10 countries and is working toward developing country context- specific counseling and courses. The adaptability of the 3G/4G platform enables the tool to be implemented all over the globe, but success and sustainability depend on the participation of local companies employers, international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), and project implementing partners to provide counseling and advice as well as local government and NGO partners. The Ta3mal platform has experienced particular success in Jordan where it became engaged in the Jordan Chamber of commerce. 440 companies have agreed to contribute and build online courses, skill development, and career counseling. Microsoft and Silatech are now under a five-year agreement to ensure sustainability, maintenance, and expansion of the system.