The USAID Employment Opportunities Project (Foras)
The USAID Employment Opportunities Project (Foras) is designed to improve the environment to create jobs and reduce unemployment and underemployment in Iraq’s private sector. The project focuses on improving the employability of Iraq’s labor force through skills training and education. Working in tandem with the Iraqi Government, the project Foras will work with entrepreneurs, small- and medium-sized enterprises to identify their labor needs and gaps that currently deter them from expanding their businesses and delivering competitive products and services. Of particular interest to Foras will be addressing the needs of women, youth, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other socially and economically vulnerable populations.
- Creating Jobs:Foras will assist the private sector and the Government of Iraq to create jobs through apprenticeships and entrepreneurship programs. The project will assist training institutes to offer targeted apprenticeships and training courses that meet the needs of the private sector. Additionally, Foras will work with the private sector to mentor entrepreneurs and facilitate their access to finance.
- Improving Workforce Competitiveness: Foraswill bridge the skills training gap between what is currently provided in Iraq and what is needed in the private sector. Foras will survey workforce needs that are constrained by a shortage of skilled labor and devise upgraded training content to make the private sector more competitive. Such an approach will result in improved skilled labor to meet the needs of the nascent Iraqi private sector.
- Developing Partnerships: It will also support the development of entrepreneurships in Iraq. Foras will initiate pilot activities in partnership with private sector actors such as Microsoft to encourage entrepreneurship and increase its visibility as a career option for educated Iraqis.
Iraq Financial Sector Development Project
- Award Amount: $53.3 million
- Start/End Dates: July 2010-July 2014
- Iraqi Counterpart: Central Bank of Iraq
This five-year program is designed to improve the soundness of the Iraqi private financial sector through institution strengthening, targeted economic reforms, and improving the quality and availability of finance and
business education. The program aims to assist Iraqi counterparts in developing a comprehensive financial sector infrastructure that will help ensure the long-term growth of the sector.
To undertake this strategy, the program has gathered a strong team of international and Iraqi experts who work to enhance the communication process between the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI); Private Bankers; government officials and other Iraqi entities through various initiatives developed to create a unified banking system in Iraq.
The Financial Development Project is building consensus in the private banking sector community as to the appropriate models for a regional and international banking system. Objectives are being implemented through:
- Enhancing the advocacy capacity of the private financial sector focusing on capacity building and institutional strengthening of a national private banking organization. Assistancecovers a wide range of activities, including the development of the broader aspects of the financial services sector.
- Improving the soundness of the private financial sector through institution building and targeted reforms through focused capacity building, working to establish and develop financial sector institutions such as a credit information bureau, a bank training institute, and a retail payments system.
- Improving the quality and availability of finance and business education addressing the fundamental issue of a skills gap existing among university graduates entering into the banking sector, with the continued support of the Minister of Higher Education.
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