Enhancing Youth Employability among Syrian Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons and Host Communities in the District of Koya

In Kurdistan Region the pressure on higher educational institutions to change is increasing. Mostly in the direction of filling the gap between academia and industry. Hence supplying the market with the skills needed and alleviate the unemployment problem are of substantial significance. Moreover, young people living in the areas beyond the governorate centers in Kurdistan Region-Iraq are more susceptible to unemployment and underemployment problems.

This is attributed to the fact that investors in the region are increasingly inclined to concentrate most of their activities in those centers due to many factors that make the centers more feasible in economic terms. Owing to its relative proximity from Erbil City (Center of Erbil Governorate) and the willingness of most talented youth to migrate to Erbil for a better reward in life, the residing youth (especially women) in Koya District are among those that suffers from unemployment and underemployment since decades.

As an institution which being established to help the people living in Koya District, it is up to Koya University to invest its resources in finding some forms of sustainable solutions to the problem of unemployment and underemployment. One of the most viable solution is to encourage the resuscitation of private sector in the area through getting involved with NGOs, United Nations Organizations and other institutions to draw a roadmap of solutions jointly. United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is one of the UN organizations that has been engaged in helping people living in similar situation in many developing countries.  

On the other hand, as the third-largest economy in the world, Japan contributes the fourth-largest Official Development Assistance (ODA) among DAC countries. Though Japan ranked high on the list of total aid volume, its $10.37 billion aid in fiscal year 2016 merely took up 0.2 percent of its Gross National Income (GNI).

Funded by Japan, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)'s project no. 170173, with total budget of $1,592,920, aims to enhance the employability of youth – local, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) – by introducing entrepreneurship training and business support in Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). By addressing and realizing the potential of young people, this strategy positively contributes to the development of the KRI, as well as equips refugees and IDPs with relevant skills for their future return.

At industrial, trade and agricultural secondary schools, the project provides soft and life skills training coupled with upgraded competency-based technical training, including the promotion of agro-food processing activities. In addition, the project arranges apprenticeships and on-the-job training with prospective employers, as well as improved technical training and business support in the service industry, which provides 77.3% of employment in KRI. This multifaceted intervention program aims to enhance youth employability of refugees, IDPs and host communities.

One of the facets that the project is concentrating on is the introduction of the Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP) via Career Development Directorates at local universities inside KRI. This new but vital approach is in action at Koya University (KOU) since October 07th 2018 after signing a Memoir of Cooperation. According to the articles of the memoir; UNIDO has to train the local university staff to become EDP trainers; KOU has to arrange the recruitment process of the trainees; conduct EDP trainings; arrange and coordinate the events related to the competition among trainees for their business plans and facilitate the mentoring stage of 15 winners who proved to have shown the best and most innovative business ideas so that they commence to receive financial aid of maximum $2000.

It was on the same track that 13th Nov. 2018 marked an exceptional date in 2018 academic year at Koya University (KOU). A group of 6 staff (among them a director and 3 heads of departments) have determined to start a new chapter in KOU's continuous efforts to target many promoting areas. This time, opening an Entrepreneurial Chapter was the objective of this mission. The first step in this direction has been accomplished successfully. The step which recognized by the entitlement of the above staff to become trainers of Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP).


Mr. Katsumi Moriyasu (Consul of Japan in Erbil) addressing the graduation ceremony of the ToT

Graduated EDP Trainers of Koya University


On 27. Nov., 2018, Ms. Akemi Ishikawa (Industrial Development Expert at UNIDO), Mrs. Jovita "Peewee" Culaton Viray (UNIDO's Chief Technical Adviser in Erbil) and Dr. Mahmood Khoshnaw (UNIDO's Projects' Coordinator) visited Koya University Campus to meet with the Rector of Koya University (Prof. Dr. Wali Hamad) and observed the ongoing selection of the potential 60 trainees in the Entrepreneurship Development Program. A total of 194 young people have applied to attend the program. On Sunday 02. December, 2018 the potential trainees should join a 40-days training course spanned over 8 weeks inside the university campus.

Ms. Akemi Ishikawa (left) is being appreciated by Prof. Dr. Wali Hamad (right)

Ms. Akemi Ishikawa (left) is being appreciated by Prof. Dr. Wali Hamad (right)

Part of the EDP interviewing activities at Koya University


On February 18th 2019, 61 trainees who successfully participated in 8 weeks of EDP trainings at Koya University have to show up to receive their certificates of EDP accomplishment. In an environment of positive reflections, the trainees awarded their certificates as per the following programme:


Welcome Remark: Prof. Dr. Wali M. Hamad, President, Koya University

Keynote Address: Honorable Consul Katsumi Moriyasu, Japanese Consulate in Erbil, KRI

Introduction of the Project - Mrs. Jovita Culaton Viray, Chief Technical Adviser, UNIDO


Awarding of Certificates:

  1. Prof. Dr. Wali M. Hamad

  2. Honorable Consul Katsumi Moriyasu

  3. Mr. Tariq Haydary, Mayor of Koya City

  4. Mrs. Jovita Culaton Viray

  5. Mr. Takuya Ono, First Secretary of the Japanese Consulate in Erbil

  6. Awardees


KOU Staff Engaged:

  • Asst. Prof. Dr. Haidar Lashkry (Vice President of KOU for Scientific and Postgraduate Affairs)

  • Asst. Prof. Dr. Rostam Salam (Vice President of KOU for Administrative Affairs)

  • Asst. Prof. Dr. Mohammed H. Zangana (Dean of the Faculty of Engineering)

  • Asst. Prof. Dr. Shwan Omer Khder (Dean of the Faculty of Humanity and Social Sciences)

  • Dr. Hawkar Bapeer Bakir (Director of the Directorate of International Relations)

  • Dr. Luqman Weso (Director of KOU University Council)

  • Mr. Kakahan Nasraddin (Director of KOU Central Library)

  • Dr.-Ing. Rastee Dalshad Ali (Director of Career Development Directorate and UNIDO-KOU EDP Coordinator)

  • Dr. Peshraw Sammad (Administrative Asst.)

  • Mr. Peshawa Jammal M. Ali (EDP Trainer)

  • Dr. Brwa Sardar Ahmed (EDP Trainer)

  • Dr. Soran Sabah Hussein (EDP Trainer)

  • Mr. Ladeh Sardar (EDP Trainer)

  • Mrs. Sheelan Abdulwahid (EDP Panelist)

  • Asst. Prof. Dr. Bassima Falih (University Lecturer)

  • Mr. Mohammed Maghdeed (Volunteer)


UNIDO Staff Engaged (Provided by Mayor of Koya City):

  1. Mrs. Jovita Culaton Viray

  2. Dr. Mahmood Khoshnaw

  3. Mr. Seerwan Jameel


EDP Trainees:

1.     Mr. Bekr Othman Mohammad

2.     Miss Aweza Azad Nassrullah

3.     Mr. Zamdar  Ahmed Rasool

4.     Miss Hawar Dlawar Mirza

5.     Mr. Karmend Fatah Hawez

6.     Miss Mastan Qadir Khidr

7.     Miss Dawa Khadang Muhammed

8.     Miss Awin Kamal Omar

9.     Mrs. Rezan Saeed  Jaafar

10.  Miss Bayan Ramazan Yunis

11.  Mrs. Dastan Fakhir Lashkary

12.  Miss Zheena Mshir Reza

13.  Miss Ara Qadir  Khidr

14.  Miss Hozhan Ismael Mohammed

15.  Miss Hazhan Nafeh Baha'adeen

16.  Mr. Ako Rajab Qadir

17.  Miss Shawin Dlawar Sadraldin

18.  Mr. Hardy Hamza Mahmud

19.  Mrs. Dania Nawzad Hameed

20.  Mrs. Roshna Abdulmajid Rasul

21.  Miss Jwan Jaafar Mamand

22.  Miss Bnar Abdulrahman Hama Qurban

23.  Miss Ghamgin Ismael Azeez

24.  Mrs. Dehat Abdulrahman Hama Qurban

25.  Miss Revan Aswad Maghdid

26.  Mr. Zring Fateh Ali

27.  Mrs. Begard Kaifi Osu

28.  Mr. Masty Musheer Asaad

29.  Mr. Soran Asaad Karim

30.  Mr. Halmat Afandi Mamend

31.  Miss Alla Azad Mustafa

32.  Miss Dunya Ahmed Mohammed

33.  Mr. Darawan Razzaq Nader

34.  Mrs. Bahra Pishtiwan Ahmad

35.  Mr. Diyary Chato Hassan

36.  Mr. Ayad Tariq Hama Wazir

37.  Miss Chawan Jaafar Mamand

38.  Mr. Reband Luqman Hamadamin

39.  Mr. Dawan Dler Jamal

40.  Mr. Shano Aswed Maghdid

41.  Miss Hewar Afendi Memend

42.  Mrs. Zouzan Ali Youssef

43.  Mr. Rinas Mohammad Khalil

44.  Mr. Hardi Abdulkarim Hamad Mustafa

45.  Mr. Shakhawan Mohammed Hussein

46.  Miss Khanda Aswad Maghdid

47.  Mr. Mahmud Ali Abd

48.  Mr. Rabee Abas Abd

49.  Miss Awen Jamal Mustafa

50.  Mr. Ahmed Ibrahim Abud

51.  Mrs. Zaynab Shalal Abd

52.  Miss Gashaw Mawlood Kareem

53.  Mrs. Ghayda Khamis Isa

54.  Mr. Chia Amir Bekir

55.  Mr. Muhamed Sabty Abas

56.  Mr. Thaeer Mohammad Ibrahim

57.  Mr. Khalil Maaruf  Ibrahim

58.  Mr. Mohammed Ismael Dawood

59.  Mr. Haitham Mahmood alwan

60.  Mr. Amr Thyab Hatrush

61.  Mrs. Helin Mohammed Kareem


Vote of Thanks

- Representative one of the trainees (Refugee/IDPSs): Mr. Haitham Mahmood Alwan

- Representative one of the trainees (Host): Mrs. Rezan Saeed Jaafar


Prize to Koya University President from UNIDO

Group Photo


At the end of the ceremony the trainees and the honorable guests gathered to have lunch, meanwhile enjoying an atmosphere of joy and constructive discussions.


Graduated EDP Trainees at Koya University


Soon after the trainees’ graduation and on 24. 02.2019 a one full day mentoring for the trainees to answer queries for the finalization of their business plans has been spent. The deadline for submission of the business plans to UNIDO is at COB March 4th. Thereafter, presentation of business plans is being conducted on March 12, 13 and 14. UNIDO has selected the members of the interview panel and one person who will be a member of the Audit Team. On March 17th, 15 winners have been announced via email, viber and or whatsapp. After the announcement, Koya University team has scheduled a meeting with the winners to discuss their equipment, tool and material needs in terms of the in-kind support that UNIDO will give.


Winners of the Business Plans Competition


Worth mentioning here that KOU likes to reiterate its profound appreciation for the enormous support of Honorable Consul Katsumi Moriyasu, Mr. Takuya Ono, Mrs. Jovita Culaton Viray, Mr. Seerwan Jameel and Dr. Mahmood Khoshnaw, to being actively engaged in the phases of the project implementation. Through implementation of alike projects, KOU is looking forward to foster its mutual relations with the working Japanese entities and United Nations organizations in Iraq.



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