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On December 17th, 2018, the 1st International Manpower Development Conference was held in Baghdad. The event was sponsored by Earthlink and organized by the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX), the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and the United States Embassy in Iraq.
Many ministry officials along with academics from Iraqi universities and manpower-development experts from American universities participated in this conference to highlight the skills and experience currently sought after by the Iraqi labor market but often lacking among recent graduates. Organizers also asked a group of Iraqi companies to clarify these needs.
In his talk from the conference stage, Earthlink HR manager Mr. Mohammed Al Awad said: “In 2016, PayScale conducted a survey of 64,000 managers from around the world to highlight the basic skills that fresh graduates lack. Critical thinking is at the top of the list of abilities that students lack were. Plus attention to detail, communication, and other skills that can’t be learned from books alone.”
He added, “What students actually need to do is practice in real life what they have learned at university and thus develop the skills the labor market needs. We are, therefore, keen to continue cooperating with the International Research and Exchange Board as well as the Iraqi universities, and the Department of Studies, Planning and Follow Up in the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
We need to highlight the skills that new graduates lack. And prepare them for the realities of the market by updating the curriculum and teaching methods in Iraqi universities. We’ll also add more practical material and evaluate the performance of students and recent graduates who take part in Earthlink’s annual summer training course along with others who have enrolled in Earthlink’s work environment. This will allow us to obtain accurate statistical information that will help us determine the actions we should take.”
Mr. Al Awad went on to say: “We have already collaborated with ten traditional universities to conduct summer training for their students. We have also continued to contact other universities to provide employment opportunities for the top ten graduates in various specialties after verifying their skills. We also contribute periodically to support universities in their academic activities and conferences. And because we believe that the right kind of training would close the gap between education and the labor market, we have given our official support to the 1st International Manpower Development Conference 2018 and participated as a member of the advisory board for the IREX project, which aims to develop curricula and modern teaching methods.”
Mr. Ammar Waleed, program manager at the International Research and Exchange Board, confirmed that recent graduates usually have academic knowledge. But they have a lack of the opportunity to practice that knowledge in a real work environment. And the reason they can’t join the labor market is the lack of these specific skills. Therefore, raining students and new graduates in the many essential skills they’ll need should by one of the university’s interests. In order to deal with a real work environment and increase employee’s responsibilities towards work. And by applying these three stages we’ll be able to achieve it:
Mr. Omar Mohammed, manager’s assistant at the Department of Studies, Planning, and Monitoring in the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research said: “The aim of the 1st International Manpower Development Conference in Iraq is to identify the skills that companies are looking for in new graduates. These data will help us in choosing training topics. And the skills these will be taught in the 35 career centers currently operating in Iraqi universities. We are also working on establishing career centers in more than 60 private universities.”
Mr. Mohammed continued: “Today, the Higher Education Ministry is working together with private companies to pinpoint the problems they both face. And to put them on the table for discussion. And try to find solutions. As one of the founding members of the advisory board that first met at the Ministry Of Higher Education in 2017, Earthlink has played a major role. It has also supported several initiatives related to training fresh graduates. Along with similar initiatives that focus on developing the performance of students and graduates. We continue to work side by side with Earthlink to learn what skills the labor market needs. And to seek productive solutions.”
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