Searching for a ray of light in a difficult time for Lebanese youth
Finding a job is hard for young people in Lebanon as a result of the current political and economic crisis. But youth are finding hope of a better future by coding.
min read //
May 23, 2021
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Finding a job is hard for most people in Lebanon but it’s especially difficult for young people, who never got the chance to gain work experience before the current political and economic crisis hit.
In the North, the situation is even worse. Before the Civil War, Tripoli was a thriving business centre with a strong expat community. But it's long-since been in decline and unemployment rocketed to 25% in March, prices soared and the value of the currency plummeted.
No wonder, then, that young Lebanese are fleeing the city.
In the wake of the latest political and economic meltdown, some 380,000 Lebanese people are said to be considering emigrating. For a population of just under 7 million, that’s a significant loss.
At 22, Sally hasn't yet saved up the money to go abroad but she is waiting for the right opportunity.
"It’s extremely difficult to find a job in Lebanon at the moment. The majority of my friends and family have already left Tripoli for other countries like the USA and France. I don’t have the financial ability to go to France so that is why I’m still here. I’m one of the few people left behind," she says.
Almost impossible to find work
Unable to emigrate or find a job in Lebanon, Sally and her classmate Joseph have joined the Re:Coded bootcamp to find a job. Sally explains.
The bootcamp gives us the opportunity to develop the skills and experience necessary to find a job which I never had the chance to gain at university.
Despite both recently graduating from university with degrees in telecoms and IT, they haven’t been able to find work in Lebanon as they lack practical skills and work experience, says Joseph.
"I have seen some job offers for jobs in tech but none of them fit. The salaries compared to the work required are low. In Lebanon, everything has become more expensive due to the fall in value of the Lebanese pound. This means that there are no reasonable offers in the tech industry in Lebanon. They want a software engineer who will be paid nothing. You can’t blame them because even companies are in financial difficulty. They themselves get almost no support."
Following on from the Beirut blast which destroyed much of the port, there had been hopes that Tripoli would pick up the slack, regenerating the local economy. However, with the container terminal back in operation, these hopes have come to naught.
"Here in Tripoli, there are fewer work opportunities than in Beirut where there are more companies to work for. We can count the number of companies in Tripoli on one hand. There is work but it is necessary to be the absolute best and to have a lot of experience," says Sally who lives with her family in Tripoli.
Finding hope in coding
So going abroad still remains a very real possibility for both, but for now they’re trying to make the best of things. And the coding bootcamp has given them new hope, says Joseph.
"In Lebanon, the youth are very very neglected and marginalized so this is a great opportunity for me. The bootcamp is a huge opportunity for Lebanese youth. This isn’t something which we are used to. "
There is a big lack of opportunities in Lebanon so Re:Coded gave us hope, maybe a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change our lives.
For Joseph, it’s about more than just skills as the bootcamp has given him the chance to pursue a career which he had always dreamed of.
"It’s about web development and building things, creating new things, like websites is something which I love. I have always found it fulfilling to create websites. I always wondered how I could make it better. I always wanted to be the one who built the website. I really love coding."
As we’re speaking with them in mid-December, they’re about to proceed to learning React and even though it’s a tough journey, Joseph is enjoying the learning experience.
"I love the teamwork of the Re:Coded bootcamp. It’s really great. The way of explaining ideas, of working together. We are not used to it in Lebanon. Learning is really difficult in Lebanon as they have adopted the old French system. We normally study things which we don’t need so getting to learn with an organization from outside of Lebanon is a relief and it makes me happy, honestly. I’m glad that I have had this opportunity. I hope to make something of it," says Joseph.
Sally has also taken note of the strong bond in the bootcamp which is taught online, but with live classes instead of recorded sessions that you go through on your own.
"We meet like-minded people who can help us with our problems and provide motivation."
In the end, they both hope it will help them find a job.
"I’m not really sure about my chances but obviously being at Re:Coded improves my chances of finding a job abroad. It makes it easier. It’s very nice to have someone to help you find a job. It’s the number one concern for everyone here," says Joseph.
"I would prefer to leave Lebanon. I only care about finding a job and settling and having a life. It’s a time-wasting situation here."
This coding bootcamp is a part of the Local Development Program for Urban Areas in North Lebanon (UDP_NL) which is co-funded by he European Union and Germany. It is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in partnership with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Re:Coded.
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