World Food Program Hosts Skills Development Pilot Program for Refugees at AUIS

Wednesday, August 30, 2017 - 14:45


Tech for Food to connect refugees and vulnerable communities with internet-based livelihood opportunities. 


August 30, 2017 (Sulaimani, KRG - Iraq): The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) concluded today a seven-week digital skills training program for refugees which drew upon the expertise of the Professional Development Institute (PDI) at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS). The pilot program was attended by more than a hundred Syrian refugees from Arbat camp in Sulaimani. Fifty five percent of the trainees were women, while 45 percent were either enrolled in, or had graduated from, a university before being forced to leave Syria.

The WFP Tech for Food program teaches digital skills through vocational trainings, providing refugees and displaced communities a chance to improve their skill set and livelihood prospects in the long run. As part of the program, PDI ran a seven weeks’ training tailored to specific needs and literacy and skill levels of the participants. Taught in two shifts daily, the refugees were offered intensive lessons in basic English language skills, social media, and information technology (IT) skills - such as using Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, and other applications. The courses were taught by PDI English language instructors and IT professionals, including some AUIS IT graduates.

According to WFP Project Manager Sandra Raad, providing access to the digital economy has a huge potential to impact communities affected by the Syria crisis: “It is an untapped well of opportunities that WFP is engaged in bringing to its beneficiaries. WFP works carefully with collaborators and providers who understand the possibilities of Internet-Based jobs and was pleased to find in AUIS the agility and forward-looking approach necessary to pull such a pilot off,” she said at the graduation ceremony held for the participants at AUIS today.

The PDI has extensive experience in delivering tailored training programs for development organizations, as well as the public and private sector. Sharing his thoughts on WFP’s pilot training program in Iraq, Anwar Ibrahim, PDI manager said, “These have been fantastic seven weeks of energy and motivation for the students, instructors and management alike. We feel honored to have contributed to the planning and implementation of such a vital program for vulnerable refugees. We truly believe in contributing to the development of our communities. I thank all the people and organizations who contributed to this success story, especially the WFP for having the confidence and trust in AUIS. Above all, I would like to thank the students and their families and wish them all the best.”

About the Tech for Food Project:

WFP is working on new, sustainable approaches in helping food insecure refugees and vulnerable host communities in the region, including women and youth. Teaching digital skills through vocational training represents a unique opportunity in building sustainable and transferable capacities on a larger scale for the most vulnerable communities, both Syrian refugees and host communities. Together with the private sector, WFP is connecting those people who are most in need to internet-based opportunities. The project started as a pilot in Lebanon and is now being introduced in Iraq due to its successful results. Click here for more information.

About the Professional Development Institute:

PDI complements the educational objectives of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani by providing opportunities for lifelong learning through programs and services that enable participants to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve personal and professional goals, improve the productivity of organizations, and provide leadership and service to their communities. Working collaboratively with individuals, businesses and both government and non-governmental organizations, PDI seeks to identify and develop value-adding programs and services. Click here for more information.

For more information, please contact:

Mehr Zahra, communications director, AUIS:  | +964 772 339 9305
Bzhar Ali Boskani, media and public relations adviser, AUIS: | +964 770 152 1893
Sandra Raad, project manager, WFP: