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January 01, 1993 | English
A Study of the Needs and Opportunities for Skilled Workers in Lebanon

This study builds upon the previous LCPS report on NEF-funded vocational and technical programs in Lebanon presented in January 1992. The absence of information systems and up-to-date statistical studies on Lebanon has been a serious handicap to studies in all sectors. The present study, although limited and selective, should provide a timely and valuable contribution to human resource planning and development in Lebanon and can be considered as an important first step towards a much-needed broader, more comprehensive study on manpower needs in the country for the next ten years, an exercise essential for planning and development in all sectors.
The specific goals of the study are to:
Describe the current status of the skilled workforce
Identify the skills most and least in demand in the market
Evaluate the relations between training programs and employers
Recommend priority actions to the near east foundation
The study was carried out through field research and interviews with selected key informants and representative sample of businesses in the industrial, construction, and service sectors.
A number of patterns emerge from the data and major findings:
1.The workforce in Lebanon today is under-exploited for reasons ranging from the poor quality of training programs, from being trained in skills in low demand in the market rather than in those in high demand, and from preferring, for social reasons, to seek training and employment in the less needed, but socially more prestigious , white-collar skills.
2.Businesses, for the most part, are marked by: - a personalized approach to hiring and ad hoc attitudes towards training;
 - a common practice of offering low remuneration and minimally acceptable working conditions;
 - high employee turnover due to the more lucrative alternatives of self-employment or emigration;
 - a permanent, urgent, need for qualified skilled labor;
 - the absence of systematic and on-going relationships with training institutions which would permit them to direct choice and match training to jobs needed;
 - the necessity to offer, therefore, in-service training (formal or informal) programs that are costly.
3.The majority of training institutions: - lack the funds and motivation to offer skill training in fields requiring costly equipment and highly-qualified instructors;
 - offer training in skills most in demand by their student clientele without regard to employment opportunities
 - offer theoretical programs containing minimal practical components;
 - do not adequately address, in their curricula, the essential elements of basic learning and language skills;
 - offer no aptitude evaluation or career guidance to students;
 - even if willing, have no established system for coordinating training with market needs.
4.The skills most needed today, and projected as being needed in the future, are those in the industrial and construction sectors. Those least in demand and, ironically, in which large numbers have been trained, usually poorly, are white-collar skills.
5.The government of Lebanon, to which the vocational and technical sector would normally be expected to turn for planning and development assistance, has been, understandably, a non-actor over the past sixteen years given the high priorities it has had to face in ending the war, in achieving a measure of internal political stability, and in effecting the beginning of an economic turnaround. That it is beginning to address its responsibilities in this area is evidenced by the recent establishment of a Ministry of Professional and Technical Training. However this Ministry is in an embryonic stage and cannot be looked to for substantial assistance for some time to come.
In light of the major large-scale needs of the sector revealed in this study, LCPS recommends that NEF coordinate its assistance efforts with other PVOs, foreign donor and U.N. agencies, well-established and forward thinking private enterprises and training institutions in Lebanon, and the Government of Lebanon through the Ministry of Professional and Technical Training. In order of priority, these needs are:
Carrying out a comprehensive, country-and sector-wide manpower survey;
Effecting long-term planning and development of training institutes to meet the skilled labor needs of the country for the next 10 years;
In the short-term, encouraging small- to medium-scale initiatives to encourage relationships between businesses and training institutions or programs;
Devising strategies to incorporate women and the handicapped into the workforce.

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