US tech company to open 6 learning centres in Jordan and Lebanon

HP says entrepreneurial training is key to address unemployment in the region

By Binsal Abdul KaderSenior Reporter
17:43 July 12, 2017

Abu Dhabi: A US technology company will open six learning studios to equip refugees in the Middle East with better employability skills. The company also plans to offer entrepreneurial training to the unemployed youth in the Gulf as part of a global educational and training programme, a senior executive told Gulf News Wednesday.

“We will open three learning studios each in Jordan and Lebanon to help the displaced refugees,” Nate Hurst, Chief Sustainability and Social Impact Officer at HP, said in a telephone interview from Hamburg in Germany. He is attending the 2017 Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, which is held on the eve of the G20 Summit.

The learning studios for the refugees will be established in cooperation with the governments of Jordan and Lebanon, and right partners in non-governmental sector, Hurst said. The company has already collaborated with the Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education) that works with the business community to offer quality education to children across the world, he said.

The initiative is part of HP’s pledge to spend more than $20 million (Dh73.4 million) to provide education and training for more than 100 million people across the globe between 2015-2025, which was announced in the Hamburg festival.

The executive said HP LIFE, an online business and IT training platform introduced by HP Foundation, already offers a large number of courses free of cost.

About the timeframe to establish the six studios, Hurst said: “We have to work with the governments and other organisations such as the UN and UNICEF to understand requirements [identify the needy people and security provisions for the project]. We have already sent a delegation to Jordan to figure out the partnership with right organisations [to implement the project].” He said the centres are expected to be opened by the end of this year.

Asked whether these programmes will support the unemployed youth in the Gulf and other parts of the region, he said: “We will definitely target them.”

The executive pointed out that there are 74 million unemployed youth worldwide and they need access to educational resources. The programme will support both the unemployed and the underemployed. “They can utilise HP LIFE’s online courses at their own time.”

Some educated people in the region may need entrepreneurial and marketing skills to develop small businesses. “Then, they can create their own future.”

In coordination with the governments of some countries in the Middle East, the company has offered National Education Technology Assessment (NETA) program to assess the impact of technology-based interventions in schools. The NETA assessment technology verifies that students are not just showing up at school, but actually learning and preparing for their future.

The company already has a couple of education and training projects in the Middle East, including in Tunisia. HP LIFE, a programme of the HP Foundation, is a key program resource in United Nations Industrial Development Organization’s (UNIDO) Mashrou3i programme. It was launched in 2013 as a three year programme to provide business skills training and foster entrepreneurship skills development for unemployed young people in four governorates in Tunisia.

The programme created more than 1250 jobs and 160 businesses, Hurst said. “This is an example of success.”

Due to the Mashrou3i program’s success in Tunisia, in 2017, it was expanded and extended for a further five years, and UNIDO is now replicating the program in Nigeria, Hurst said.