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  • Writer's pictureLauren Anders Brown

Supporting refugees transition to employment through online coaching

Updated: Jan 19



The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is an independent humanitarian organisation helping people forced to flee. NRC delivers aid in more than 30 countries, including Jordan. Since the Syrian war broke out in 2012, Jordan has welcomed hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. 

Undocumented refugees cannot enter formal employment or access essential services like healthcare and education. NRC provides shelter, education, youth activities and livelihood opportunities to Syrian refugees. The Livelihoods Programme uses coaching as a tool to support refugees with the difficult task of reintegrating into the workforce. 


Livelihoods

 

The Livelihoods program integrates Syrian refugees and economically vulnerable Jordanians into the labour market. The programme provides training to refugees in specific skills, including soft skills. NRC also coaches the job seekers before they are placed in their new jobs to provide general advice, discuss expectations, and continuously check in with them after their placement and the transition to employment process. 


Partnership with Gamoteca


The NRC Jordan team has been partnering with Gamoteca since 2021 when it rapidly created a remote coaching solution through the platform. Through our latest collaboration last year, we worked closely to co-develop job readiness TECAs (Technology Enhanced Collaboration Activities) on:

  • Preparing for the job market

  • Getting ready for an interview

  • Communication skills

  • Entrepreneurship


The four TECAs were the core component to the project, their purpose was to prepare refugees looking to enter the workforce. Refugees have limited scope in which they’re permitted to work in Jordan, and so the TECAs had to adhere to this scope focusing on soft skills that would be useful for jobs that were not client facing, unless of course it was a new enterprise. 




A unique and localised approach to design


Anyone who has ever had to translate something from one language to another can agree, translation is very subjective. In addition, Arabic is an extremely regional language, words spoken in Morocco can be incompressible to someone from Syria. MSA, Modern Standard Arabic, is the language’s best attempt at unifying a single version of the language for international interpretation but for refugees this can also be incomprehensible. NRC Jordan needed the TECAs to be in Levantine Arabic, so they could be easily understood by their learners but they were aware the platform itself needed translation as well, and that would have to be in MSA. 


There were many collaborators we worked with to deliver this project. One of them was Ibrahim Othman, an Arabic teacher and translator, who helped us translate the platform to MSA Arabic. He helped us switch between MSA to Levantine Arabic effortlessly, and worked screen by screen to translate the entire user flow of the Gamoteca platform. Our second collaborator, Ehab, a social entrepreneur and innovator himself, helped us design the content and activities that would be relevant and useful to other Syrian refugees. We began by creating storyboards and media assets in multiple languages, first in English and then in Levantine Arabic with Ehab self recording a lot of the content sharing his story as an entrepreneur.



The team at NRC were very responsive and decisive, both important aspects when there’s a tight deadline and multiple iterations required when working in different languages. The entire process was putting into practice the importance of human connection, and how it can transcend borders and languages. After all that work though, would it have the impact we all hoped?


The human impact 


The four TECAs were incorporated into the NRC career coaching programme being offered to Syrian refugees. One of the first participants of the programme was a woman named Nour. Nour fled from Syria to Jordan with her family in 2014. In time, Nour settled into her new life and continued to pursue her education. She completed her high school certificate, excelling in English class and winning governorate-wide competitions. 



Now, at twenty years old, however, Nour feels lost.


“The reason I could not complete my university degree was because of financial pressure,” she says. “There are three of us in the family, all of university age. As refugees in Jordan, we either need to score highly on our exams, or we must pay international tuition fees, which places a significant burden on my family.”


Nour received a call from her current NRC career coach, Wala’a, earlier this year. “When Wala’a called and informed me about this programme, I felt a glimmer of hope. I felt like I was finally committing to something for at least the next few months, and that brought me great relief.” 


“Before embarking on the career coaching element, I had this idea that it would involve the usual online training style; all the participants hiding behind closed cameras, and only one or two actively engaging with the presenter,” she says. “I was so surprised when I saw the platform, and I was even more pleasantly surprised to see the coach directly addressing me.

 

“Because I am being directly addressed, I feel more accountable and more focused since I need to provide my coach with well thought out answers. Whenever my coach asks me a question, I spend a significant amount of time forming my answer, and clearly voicing my opinion.”


Even though Nour had previously volunteered with various organisations, NRC's programme provided her with her first glimpse into preparing for the job market. This included learning how to introduce herself as a potential candidate and put together a resume.


Upon completing each stage in the programme, participants earn a cash grant that they can put toward anything that helps them advance in their career search. 


“At this age, I’m still quite young and I need a lot of guidance,” she says. “Alongside my career coaching and employment preparation, my eyes have also been opened to the possibility of becoming an entrepreneur. Hopefully, this is the launch of something new.”  


Want to create your own Technology Enhanced Collaboration Activities (TECAs)?




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