Engineering Fellows Program
The 2012-2013 Engineering Fellows Cohort
The Palestinian job market is suffering from a severe lack of job opportunities to accommodate the annual number of new, young graduates that are joining the more than 16,000 registered engineers in the West Bank. With this pool of skilled labor, new engineers often cannot find an opportunity to prove themselves. Many new engineering graduates might have stellar grades and an understanding of engineering theory, but within a trade where candidates are often required to have some practical work experience, it is difficult to get shortlisted for a well-paid position. Many engineering students find themselves faced with the challenge of finding work without having work experience after graduating. The absence of a matching plan between the needs of the Palestinian market and the different Engineering disciplines in the Palestinian Universities represents a major problem affecting a critical demographic.
Within this context, the Engineering Fellows project was initiated in 2007 under the USAID-funded Emergency Jobs Program (EJP). Although EJP ended in January of 2011, the Engineering Fellows project has continued since 2010 under the USAID-funded Local government and Infrastructure Program (LGI), in partnership with the Engineers Association – Jerusalem Center. As of the January 2014, 150 fellows have participated under the LGI Program (since 2010), bringing the total number of fellows since 2007 to 250. Another approximately 50 fellows will join the program by 2015.
The project targets young engineers who are unemployed but fully credentialed – putting them to work on Global Communities projects, at the offices of the Engineering Association, or at local municipalities, thus utilizing their knowledge and skills within the context of developing critical infrastructure while providing them with hands on experience that will help them to obtain meaningful work in the future. Fellows also receive an impressive list of technical training courses, including site safety, construction management, quality control, green building, etc., and soft skills training in leadership and communication. Fellows also partake in site visits to expand their knowledge of the construction sector, including local wastewater treatment plants and the new community of Rawabi.
Another innovative aspect about this program is that the fellows are also eligible to participate in a competitively selected Young Green Engineers component, the first of its kind in the West Bank. Each year 2-3 fellows intern with Khatib & Alami, one of the leading engineering firms in the Arab world working in the field of sustainable and green building design and construction. The fellows receive in-depth training in the American green building system known as LEED and become familiar with the Emirati equivalent, ISTIDAMA.
Aziz al Hadareen, 25 years old, who graduated as a Civil Engineer from the Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron. Aziz is a previous Global Communities Fellow who benefited from the Fellows Program. He said in an interview with Global Communities, “I come from a Bedouin village east of Yatta. It’s like a dessert there, we are located far away from the city of Hebron and you can hardly find anyone who studied Engineering in my village.” Aziz was among the first in his village to break the routine and study engineering. Most students there, he says, study to become teachers.
After graduating, Aziz started to hunt for jobs. He was faced with the same typical argument, “You are a new graduate; you need to obtain experience first and then look for a job.” Aziz says this was the answer he received from different engineering offices. Eventually, he decided to knock the doors of the Engineering Association where he learned about the Engineering Fellows project. Following his full year fellowship, Aziz secured a job at Al-Dhahiriyah Municipality. “I learned a lot, both on the practical side and the theoretical one. I got experience managing projects, evaluating bids, working on computer engineering programs, and I received new information on environmental issues related to the engineering field,” he said.
Nadine Rashmawi, 25 years old, Civil Engineer from.