The American University in Cairo (AUC), in cooperation with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), launched yesterday the University Centers for Career Development (UCCD) project that will impact roughly 1 million students at public universities. The project, which will be implemented by AUC and funded by USAID, will establish 20 sustainable UCCDs in 12 Egyptian public universities in Upper Egypt, Delta and Greater Cairo over a four-year duration.AUC President Francis Ricciardone, who spoke at the launch event for UCCD in AUC New Cairo, said this project stems from a promise he made to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
“[President Sisi] urged us to do more to engage with Egyptian universities and to share with them our experience,” Ricciardone said. “This is one of the proudest ways in which we do it. It is not a sideline. It is central to our educational philosophy and our purpose.”
The event was attended by distinguished guests in the Education field and presidents of Cairo University, Ain Shams University, Alexandria University, Aswan University, Beni Sweif University, Damietta University, Mansoura University, Menoufia University, Miniya University, Sohag University, University of Sadat City and Zagazig University.
“That’s great news not only for the students, but also for the private sector and for the country as a whole, said Sherry Carlin, director of USAID Mission. “We are pleased to announce our partnership with the American University in Cairo to develop 20 new career centers that will serve over 70 percent of all public university students in Egypt – potentially reaching over one million public university students” said USAID/Egypt Mission Director Sherry F. Carlin.
The UCCD program will empower students to pursue their career choices and will facilitate their transition from university to the work force. In cooperation with the public universities’ administration and training partners, the centers will offer a comprehensive and engaging set of interventions in the areas of career management, employability skills, technical trainings and entrepreneurship. These trainings will help bridge the gap between the university educational outcomes and industry needs, and increase the graduates ‘competitiveness in the job market to become productive citizens in their societies and contribute to their country’s future development.
Some of the universities that will soon be home to their own sustainable career centers include Ain Shams University, Alexandria University, Aswan University and Mansoura University. AUC is hiring a team to establish the centers, which will eventually be staffed by career development facilitators.
Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Khaled Abdel Ghaffar said at the launch event that he’s most looking forward to another beneficial aspect of these centers: establishing entrepreneurial skills.
“We have around 30 million graduates going out to the labor market in Africa every year –– I believe 700,000 are just from Egypt, which means that we have an opportunity and we have something to offer to those graduates in order to help them find a job. The problem is. ... that the country can't offer jobs for 700,000 graduates every year. That’s really impossible. ... I’m not only happy to help them to find a job. I want them to create a job.”
Maha Guindi, executive director of AUC's Career Center, assured Minister Abdel Ghaffar that developing entrepreneurial skills and supporting entrepreneurship was also a central part of the program’s mission. The UCCD project will also partner with the International Labour Organization to analyze the needs of the current labor market and help the universities equip students with the required knowledge and skills for the job market, said Guindi. “Part of what AUC is interested in is to help the community, through community service,” she added, “This is part of the mandate to expand our expertise to help build capacities within the community to serve more Egyptian youth and help them prepare for their future careers.”