Trainees attending a launch ceremony. Credit: UNDP Iraq/Cengiz Yar


Displaced Youth in Iraq are forging a new path for their future with support from UNDP and Toyota Iraq. The conflict that erupted in Iraq in the end of 2013 displaced over three million people, disrupting the lives, livelihoods and education of Iraqis throughout the country. UNDP’s Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme (ICRRP) partnered with one of the world’s leading automotive companies, Toyota Iraq, to offer unique opportunities for displaced youth who struggle to find employment. Established in July 2016, this training programme is conducted in English and Arabic. The Toyota Iraq team provides top class training to sharpen the skills of displaced youth and develop their professional capacity in three fields: auto technician development, warehouse management and customer relations development. Some of the graduates of the programme have been employed by Toyota Iraq and its partner dealers in Iraq, placed in jobs by ICRRP and its partners with support from the Government of Japan, or have returned to their area of origin to find employment there.


Noor, 30, from Falluja, Anbar Governorate Credit: UNDP Iraq/Paola Piccione


“My family and I were driven out of our home because of the danger posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Since I arrived in Erbil, I have been seeking a better future, but it is very difficult to find a job without practical skills and experience.” Noor successfully graduated in 2017 from the Customer Relations Development training.


Beyond vocational training, this programme provides on-the-job training that prepares graduates for practical tasks.


Trainees engaged in on-the-job training put into practice what they have learned in the warehouse management class. Credit: UNDP Iraq/Ayser Al-Obaidi


By challenging gender norms in Iraq, this programme also encourages displaced women to work outside their homes and contributes to their economic empowerment.


Female trainee from the Customer Relations Development course gains exposure to auto servicing. Credit: Toyota Iraq

Some of the trainees who have successfully completed the vocational training programme have been recruited by Toyota Iraq, which has brought encouragement and the necessary hope and stability to their lives to continue fighting for a better future. Abubakir, 24, is one of the new recruits, graduating in May 2018. Originally from Tikrit, he took shelter in Erbil when ISIL swept across Salah Al Din Governorate. He struggled to find work in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq after completing his degree in law.


“I am a positive person; a lot of things changed in my life and I suffered a lot but I feel that I am very strong now. I enjoy my job as Service Field Specialist and I hope one day I can combine my legal studies with private sector work.” Abubakir has an eye on the future and would like to continue his studies thanks to the financial stability gained from training and employment at Toyota Iraq. Credit: UNDP Iraq/Claire Thomas


I love computers so anything having to do with computers, I’m there! The economic downturn made it difficult for me to support my family until I heard of the Toyota training opportunity.”


Yasser, 27, whose life was disrupted by the war in Baghdad, where he lived for some years until 2006 when the insecurity caused his family to move to Damascus. The spread of the internet in Syria saw him use his skills to establish a small technology company.  When he moved to Erbil in 2013 due to the Syrian crisis, he already knew that he wanted to improve his knowledge on information technology. The Toyota training came at the right time!


In his position now, as Spare Parts Field Specialist, Yasser is between the office and partner dealers’ warehouses, tracking and monitoring the inventory. Credit: UNDP Iraq/Claire Thomas


Taghrid, 28, has been working with Toyota Iraq since her graduation from the Customer Relations Development training in May 2017. Originally from Mosul, she grew up in Baghdad until the war became unbearable for her family. In 2006, they decided to move to Syria where she earned a degree in civil engineering. When Taghrid’s family decided to return to Iraq and settled in Erbil in 2013, she found that her degree from Damascus University was not recognized in Iraq.


“I was always trying to improve my skills, studying English, reading anything I could, but I still could not find a job. When I was selected to participate in the training with Toyota, I finally felt like my life became organized and on track.” Credit: UNDP Iraq/Claire Thomas


Just a few months after starting her work in Toyota Iraq’s call center, Taghrid was promoted to  Administration and Customer Relations Specialist, where her skills could be better utilized. Now she is looking forward to continuing her education with an engineering master’s degree in the near future.

Many Iraqi youth whose lives and education were disrupted by the recent conflict and their displacement to other countries in the region or cities in Iraq find themselves in a position similar to Taghrid, Abubakir and Yasser before participating in the UNDP-Toyota training programme. UNDP’s ICRRP and Toyota Iraq are committed to continuing this partnership to support Iraqi youth to improve their lives.

The private sector is an important strategic partner for UNDP’s ICRRP in achieving its vision to strengthen livelihoods and resilience of internally displaced people, Syrian refugees and host comminutes. Since ICRRP’s inception in 2015, over 1,000 people (27% women) have found a full-time employment for a minimum duration of 6 months through partnership agreements with 35 private companies. Over 10,800 people (45% women) have enhanced their skills through professional trainings.

UNDP’s ICRRP promotes the recovery and resilience of communities vulnerable to multi-dimensional shocks associated with post-liberation and large-scale returns, as well as Iraqis and Syrian refugees in protracted displacement.  This is achieved through a medium-term, 24-36 month period of programming integrating crisis management capacity building, rehabilitating basic service infrastructure, livelihood recovery and social cohesion.


Text by Linda Fawaz and Paola Piccione, UNDP Iraq

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