Young graphic design trainees win chance to secure jobs with Jordanian MSMEs
They began as classmates. Soon they will be competitors.
Six young trainees who learned graphic design through the International Trade Centre’s Refugee Employment and Skills Initiative (RESI) in Jordan will be given the opportunity to clinch a permanent job with internet marketing company mE-Marketer.
How does it work? The six freelancers will receive digital marketing training from Amman-based mE-Marketer, and then each will prepare an online marketing strategy for the company. A month later, the best two will be offered full-time web design jobs – precisely the kind of work some of them were dreaming of when they signed on with RESI.
The competition will be tough.
‘The trainees will be given all sorts of designs – social media posts, cover photos, cards, banners, logos and so on,’ explained Anas Alsoud, chief executive officer of mE-Marketer. ‘They should be able to read the client's minds and be creative and innovative.’
The six are among 86 young Jordanians, Syrians and Iraqis who followed the intensive five-month training and advisory programme to improve their technical skills and connect to digital markets. mE-Marketer is one of 20 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Jordan that agreed to take on trainees as paid freelancers after a ‘matchmaking’ session, a workshop in November and – in some cases – face-to-face interviews.
A key aim of the RESI project is to stimulate growth among local MSMEs – which generate most jobs in Jordan – and to provide job opportunities for people from refugee and host-country communities. The benefits of the Jordanian initiative will extend beyond the country’s borders: Palestinian youth and refugees who are being trained through a similar ITC project in Gaza will work for some of the Jordanian MSMEs to market designs made by the Jordan-based graphics trainees.
A ‘win-win scenario’ for MSMEs and jobhunters
‘I view the project as an outstanding one that can really match MSMEs with potential employees who have undertaken extensive training on graphic design,’ Alsoud said. ‘I felt that I should be part of this. I was extremely open to this idea due to the uniqueness of the project. It is a win-win scenario for MSMEs in Jordan and for people who are looking for job opportunities.’
ITC implements RESI, which is funded by the Government of Japan and also operates in Kenya in communities that are home to large numbers of refugees from Somalia. The initiative uses market-based incentives to promote sustainable livelihoods for refugees and host-country citizens – especially youth, who often struggle to find jobs – so they can gain marketable skills. At the same time, the project helps local MSMEs become more competitive – in the Jordanian case, at exporting innovative, high-quality business process outsourcing services.
ITC’s local counterpart in the project, the Information and Communications Technology Association – Jordan, identified more than 200 Jordanian MSMEs that could use the skills being taught to RESI trainees. Portfolios of the top students were shared with these enterprises before the MSMEs spoke face-to-face with those they thought would be the best potential ‘fit’ with their operations.
Before those one-on-one meetings, the MSMEs met with marketing experts from GrowthBond, a Denmark-based venture capital company whose executive chairman, Ferdinand Kjaerulff, sees ‘tremendous growth and export potential to realize for local companies in Jordan’.
‘With the access to finance for online advertising and hiring highly qualified internet marketing and design experts trained by ITC, there is a formula to grow the local companies and generate employment for both local Jordanian and Syrian refugees,’ Kjaerulff said. ‘The online campaigns delivered by the students trained by ITC will enable local companies to reach more than two billion customers worldwide, and set them on a growth trajectory that will generate the demand for more qualified Jordanian and Syrian refugees.’
That’s one reason Mona Lattouf, executive director of UserTestingArabic, a business that helps firms understand and improve how people use their websites, decided to participate. She also was ‘very open to this idea as a way to support youth and refugees to be able to start working by themselves’.
The trainees that UserTestingArabic is taking on will work on social media posts, Lattouf said. If things work out as well as she expects, the company, which helps businesses gather user feedback about their websites, will continue using them as freelancers.
Dinarak’s good deed to help trainees promote their work
The RESI trainings on graphic design and front-end development ended on 3 December. But all 86 trainees got some good news before the classroom door closed: they were all offered a free prepaid MasterCard linked to a free mobile wallet that will enable them to advertise their work. The gift came from Jordanian mobile payment provider Dinarak.
‘From our experiences, we realized that these beneficiaries are not into financial inclusion and other things that would enhance their work,’ explained Ayman Dababneh, Dinarak’s head of business development and marketing.
‘These beneficiaries have needs and they want to work,’ he added. ‘We want to give equality to these people. We do believe in such initiatives because we really care about those people. Why not to challenge them and to give them the access to show their creativity?’
ITC project manager Eman Beseiso agrees.
‘We have contributed to improving the economic resilience of refugees by equipping them with the right skills,’ she said. ‘ITC is a longstanding friend of the Kingdom of Jordan. We are proud to say that now is the time to harvest the fruits of our common efforts.’
So far, the graphic design trainees in Jordan have been hired for 22 freelance jobs that have earned them a total of around $2000.