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October 4, 2021

Brain drain in Lebanon and addressing the skills mismatch


Alaa Daher, 29 years, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon in her work during the internship provided through the programme.

Responding to the devastating wave of brain drain from Lebanon, this labour-market focused programme, funded by the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, aims to address the skills mismatch and ensure young people are better equipped for work. 

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, recently expressed deep concerns about the effects of brain drain from Lebanon, particularly with regards to the country’s healthcare system. “Nurses are leaving, doctors are leaving,” Ghebreyesus said. “That is very serious. Its impact will last for many years to come.”

The worsening economic crisis in the country has fuelled this latest brain drain of skilled youth migrating in search of opportunities elsewhere, but a skills mismatch has been evident for years. “The skills that individuals are entering the job industry with, do not meet the demanded criteria of companies who are being influenced by socioeconomic trends which include the adaption of technologies”, as mentioned in the World Economic Forum’s ‘The Future of Jobs Report 2018’. 

Recent years have seen significant changes in global economies – the global COVID-19 pandemic and the fourth industrial revolution in technology being the main catalysts. This has greatly influenced educational and employment needs. Digital, technical, and soft skills required by today’s employers are not yet embedded within traditional education systems.

“The skills we learned during the sessions will accompany us through our lives.”

SPARK, in partnership with local organisation, Al-Moltaqa, and with funding from Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, is implementing a labour-market focused programme in Lebanon, which provides young people with demand-driven skills, training and opportunities to apply their skills in internships and job placements. The programme partners with key private sector stakeholders and four universities in Lebanon: the Lebanese University, Beirut Arab University, Lebanese International University and the American University of Technology.

“The programme supports many students to develop their technical and soft skills to secure decent job opportunities. We focus on developing the skills of innovation, imagination, and creativity, and on the technical skills. Students can practice their knowledge and the acquired skills through internships in the private sector,” says Mahmoud Said, Chief Projects Officer at Al-Moltaqa. 

Watch how Market-driven Curriculum for Education and Jobs programme is bridging the gap between education and the world of work in Lebanon

By providing specific training in the critical skills that cannot easily be acquired by sitting behind a desk or a computer, such as leadership, critical thinking, planning, teamwork, problem-solving, emotional intelligence and communication, fresh graduates are better equipped for the world of work. To date, the programme has trained 300 graduates and 88 are now participating in a subsided internship scheme.

“The skills we learned during the sessions will accompany us through our lives, it’s not only related to finding a work but for sure impacted my life; for instance, how to be organised and how to make your opinion heard,” says Mohammad Abbarra, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon, participant of SPARK’s programme, received an internship in Business Administration.