To address this lack of workforce readiness, Souktel will pilot LaborLoop, an innovative web-based information system designed to improve the school-to-work transition of university graduates in emerging markets. LaborLoop leverages Souktel's scalable mobile technology to supply employers, schools, ministries, and their partners with the real time labor market data they need in order to make decisions that help build a qualified workforce. This pilot will be run in Palestine with a plan to scale the program if the pilot is successful.
LaborLoop will be a web portal that is linked to and draws information from Souktel's flagship mobile JobMatch platform, a technology that connects jobseekers with employment opportunities via SMS 'mini CVs' using a weighted algorithm. With LaborLoop, Ministries and their partners can see real-time information on trends and gaps in the job market. Using results aggregated from JobMatch users, LaborLoop's maps and graphical interfaces will show trends in employer-requested skill sets or job seekers' work qualifications, drawing on data about job seeker/employer location, skills, education level, work experience, and more. Automatically updating tables will list top work sector postings, top job seeker searches, and other key statistics. Ministries and their partners can add to this data by carrying out their own targeted assessments through SMS polls.
Souktel brings deep experience in the Mobiles for Development (m4d) sector to this commitment. Driven by a belief that timely, accessible job information can improve employment outcomes and economic development - and that basic technology can catalyze these information flows - Souktel has developed and deployed mobile-based job information applications in over 15 countries. Through its work in challenging markets like Palestine and Somalia, Souktel has developed a unique expertise in creating technology that transforms local labor markets. Based in the Middle East and North America, Souktel's team combines more than 20 years of experience in creating custom mobile information solutions for developing countries - and will leverage lessons learned from more than 40 service deployments in fulfillment of this commitment.
Stage One: Stakeholder Engagement and Local Needs Assessment (November-December 2012)
- Stakeholder Meetings and Planning Sessions: Souktel will work closely with partner institutions during Months One and Two of the project to conduct initial system design and scoping, develop target outreach strategies, and devise monitoring and evaluation plans.
Stage Two: Technology Design, Piloting, and Prototyping (January-February 2013)
- Design of Mobile LaborLoop System Components: After reviewing the planning process findings, Souktel staff will create a user-friendly database system which aggregates and synthesizes job-match information according to partner data needs.
- Local Focus Group Piloting and Feedback: Souktel will carry out a round of pilot testing for LaborLoop services among samples of target audience segments. Souktel's team will make modifications to the software components as needed.
Stage Three: Full Service Launch, Enhancement, Monitoring/Evaluation (March-October 2013)
- Service Launch: Souktel will convene training sessions for stakeholders, and coordinate public launch events for the service in cooperation with local media.
- Monitoring and Evaluation: To track the impact and gauge the effectiveness of LaborLoop system activities at the community level, Souktel will monitor and evaluate system components.
Stage Four: Collection of Lessons Learned and Scalability Assessment (September-October 2013)
- Documentation of Lessons Learned and Technical Feedback: Souktel will document all lessons learned, both internally and from partners, to facilitate roll-out of LaborLoop in other geographies (if appropriate).
- Assessment of Potential to Scale: Souktel, invited experts, and partner stakeholders will gather to frankly assess the scalability of LaborLoop model. Recommendations for scale will be collected and documented.
- Final Report and Partner Roundtable: Final data analysis and report writing will be conducted in the final month of the project, culminating in a roundtable discussion with pertinent community leaders and partner organizations to discuss project conclusions and project impact.
Despite the huge investments made in developing-world education systems over the past 20 years - totaling over $1.31B between 2003 and 2010, and driven actively by the Education for All and Millennium Development Goals initiative (UNESCO, 2012) - the crucial transition from school to employment has been a persistent challenge across emerging markets. A McKinsey/International Finance Corp. survey of 1,500 Arab World employers found that less than 30 percent of those polled said their new-hire, university-graduate staff had appropriate skills for the workplace (e4e Arab Youth Report, IFC and McKinsey, 2011). According to a 2012 report by African Economic Outlook, skills mismatch stood out as the greatest obstacle to graduate employment in African countries as well ('Promoting Youth Employment' African Economic Outlook, 2012).
This lack of workforce readiness - and the high rates of youth unemployment that follow as a result - can be traced to one main problem: a lack of good communication between the formal education system, job seekers, and employers. In Palestine, as in most developing countries, few good mechanisms exist to help the Ministry of Education or labor and schools understand what skills employers actually need, and for employers to learn about education system priorities. Souktel seeks to bridge this divide and make it faster and easier for Palestinian universities to build an employable and efficient workforce.