Palestine refugee students and UNRWA staff gather at the Ambitious Youth Forum in Damascus, Syria. © 2022 UNRWA Photo
Last September, the Damascus Training Centre (DTC) run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) celebrated its annual Open Day and held an “Ambitious Youth Forum” to promote its youth training and employment programme, foster partnerships with the private sector and showcase achievements in technical and vocational training.
“Joining DTC was a turning point in my life. It equipped me with the knowledge and skills required for the job market,” said Huda Abbas, a graduate of the DTC Banking and Insurance Course during remarks at “Ambitious Youth Forum”. Huda is now employed at a bank in Damascus.
Representatives of 28 companies with a range of specialties, including, industry, catering, services, media and microfinance - attended the two-day forum which provided an opportunity for the students and employers to interact, network, share information, explore and discover numerous career opportunities in the marketplace. The companies joining the event had a total of approximately 400 jobs that they hoped to recruit for from the pool of qualified DTC students during the Open Day.
In his opening remarks, the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria, Amanya Michael-Ebye, said: “This day celebrates the aspirations and accomplishments of Palestine refugee youth in Syria. Despite severe odds, Palestine refugee youth are keen to enroll in vocational and technical training, equipping them for the labour market and widening their career opportunities. It is always exciting and rewarding for me to see our students successfully interview for and get full-time employment after completing their training. Some 80 per cent of our students are employed after graduation. Over the last five years, our partnerships with companies have truly made an impact on the education at the DTC, the partnering companies and, most importantly, the students.”
Prafulla Mishra, Deputy Director of UNRWA Affairs (Programmes) in Syria, stressed the importance UNRWA places on enhancing its technical and vocational education, saying: “Our goal is to provide young Palestine refugees with the skills and confidence to succeed in Syria’s economy. The UNRWA DTC seeks to expand and enhance partnerships with the private sector to further support the training and placement of young Palestine refugees. He also encouraged the private sector companies to provide UNRWA with regular feedback regarding the TVET programme.”
On behalf of the participant companies, Dr. Salman Freihat, Administrative Officer and Public Relations Officer of al-Kamal Company, thanked UNRWA for organizing this day: "UNRWA graduates have demonstrated outstanding potential over the year. We greatly benefitted from recruiting them in our companies. They greatly contribute to our production. I salute you and your instructors.”
The DTC provides a range of one- to two-year professional and semi-professional courses to over approximately 1,360 Palestine refugee students every year. DTC also runs short-term courses for over 800 students geared towards preparing skilled individuals to meet the needs of the job market. Since it was established in 1961, more than 22,000 Palestine refugee male and female students have graduated from DTC.