Through Confinement to Employment

Speeches Shim

Friday, July 24, 2020
“This is the first time I have a CV and can sit for a job interview. In fact, I had two interviews. Then COVID-19 happened and my dreams were dashed. UNFM Beni Makada supported me through the hardship. They called regularly to check on my well-being and provided food relief that helped me and my family breathe easier. Thank you, FORSATY.” Brahim, Bir Chifae neighborhood, Tangier
Photo Credit: IOM

USAID helped send out lifelines to job seekers in hardship during confinement

At the start of April, 57 percent of all businesses in Morocco shut down due to COVID-19 confinement – including 89 percent of firms in hospitality and food services, 76 percent in textile and leather and 60 percent in construction.* The impact on already disadvantaged communities and households was disastrous.

Vulnerable persons newly employed or in an internship were forced to abandon these opportunities to face confinement. Other participants in USAID FORSATY-supported vocational counseling, training and work readiness, found closed doors as partner associations followed health emergency orders. But not all was lost. Partner associations quickly went online and picked up the phone to maintain essential links and help vulnerable keep people going.

As a result, all 113 budding entrepreneurs, including 50 women, are on course to complete their business plans and submit them to funders. Twenty-two groups were created using WhatsApp and Facebook, including 13 virtual groups which were used to run vocational training sessions. One trainer even transformed his living room into a workshop to produce practical vocational training videos. Together, the trainers managed to keep 70 to 80 percent of the young trainees continually engaged with the online courses. Vocational counseling continued and work readiness modules were delivered online.

Soft skills modules were adapted to respond to high levels of anxiety by including sessions on stress management and personal development. Most importantly, trainers and counselors kept an open ear and helped individuals talk through their ordeal and their angst.

Three months into the economic catastrophe, with FORSATY support, 98 motivated individuals accessed internship and employment opportunities. One of these individuals is Ghislaine El Oualidi, a 27-year-old who is divorced and living alone with a young daughter. Ghislaine secured a job in a custom aluminum installation firm in early June thanks to a FORSATY partner UNFM Beni Makada. She is now working to open positions in the firm for other women from the association. FORSATY partners are using their private sector and employment agency partnerships, built with USAID support, to connect their beneficiaries to reopening businesses.

Thanks to the USAID initiative on COVID-19, food distribution brought much needed relief. Improved food security gives households strength in the face of adversity, and prepaid phone and Internet cards make sustained connections possible. Hardship can build resilience when it’s not faced alone.

USAID’s FORSATY program enhances resilience in communities in Morocco by increasing participation, promoting responsive, effective governance, and fostering locally led initiatives to reduce community vulnerabilities to violent extremism. The FORSATY program is scheduled to run from 2019 to 2024 and is implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

* Haut-Commissariat au Plan, 2020.