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A group of education representatives and authorities -- including Minister of Higher Education Khaled Abdel Ghaffar and AUC President Francis Ricciardone -- gathered Monday to launch the UCCD project.

AUC to Establish 20 Career Development Centers in Egyptian Public Universities

Elizabeth Lepro

AUC marked a milestone in its mission to expand its outreach and services, launching a project that will impact roughly 1 million students at public universities.

Due to the success of AUC’s Career Center and its three pilot Employability and Career Development Centers at Ain Shams and Suez Canal universities, the University has launched the University Centers for Career Development (UCCD) project. Over the course of four years, the project will establish 20 UCCDs at 12 public universities in Upper Egypt, the Delta and the greater Cairo area, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

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 Maha Guindi, executive director of AUC's Career Center. “Part of what AUC is interested in is to help the community, through community service,” Guindi said. “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.”

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.

"Building on 30 years of experience in submitting proposals and managing awards, the UCCD agreement is considered an unparalleled opportunity not only for AUC, but for Egypt at large", said Dina Adly, executive director of AUC's Office of Sponsored Programs, which will work hand-in-hand with the AUC Career Center technical team to successfully implement and attain the contractual and administrative terms of the agreement.

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.

AUC President Francis Ricciardone speaks at the UCCD launch event Monday.

“[President Sisi] urged us to do more to engage with Egyptian universities and to share with them our experience,” President 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.”

At the centers, students will have access to career advising; employment services; workshops on resume writing, the job search and interviewing techniques; lessons on employability skills; and resources from several training partners, including AUC’s Research Institute for a Sustainable Environment.

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.”

Guindi assured Minister Abdel Ghaffar that developing entrepreneurial skills and supporting entrepreneurship was also a central part of the program’s mission.  

According to USAID, 3.5 million Egyptians under the age of 30 are unemployed. The 20 new career centers would potentially impact more than 70 percent of students in Egypt’s public universities. 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.

“If each student who will have access to these 20 centers, finds a job through these centers, then this project has the potential to cut Egypt’s youth unemployment rate by at least a third and will ensure University graduates are a driving force behind Egypt’s economic growth,” Carlin said. “With the level of expertise, innovation and experience in this room today, we know that Egypt’s youth are in great hands.”