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News || Monday, 27 February 2017

In North Africa, World Learning & Souktel Link Youth with Jobs via WhatsApp, Text & Web

With its rich oil and gas deposits, Algeria has long been able to sidestep many of the social and economic challenges facing other North African nations. But as oil prices drop and the youth population grows, young Algerians are feeling the pressure: On average, 1 in 4 Algerian youth is unemployed; among college grads, the jobless rate is close to twice the national average.

As the country works to create new jobs for young people, World Learning is playing a key role: In late 2015, the global non-profit launched the three-year Youth Employment Project (YEP), providing training and career support for an anticipated 2,000 youth in disadvantaged areas. Funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), YEP has opened career centers in seven sites across the country, providing youth with career orientation, soft skills & vocational training, and linkages to job opportunities.

But in Africa’s largest country by size, face-to-face job counselling is often a challenge: Away from the densely populated Mediterranean coast, roads are sparse and communities are hundreds of miles apart. As a result, World Learning has also partnered with Souktel to launch a digital job matching platform called DZCareer. The platform links youth with work opportunities via WhatsApp, SMS and mobile web—channels which millions of young Algerians already use daily. In real time, youth can now get location-specific updates on new jobs and internships; they can also connect directly with local career centers. In addition, the platform helps firms and career centers find candidates quickly—and send them job offers via WhatsApp, text, or email.  

“One of the main challenges in Algeria’s job market is simple, basic communication,” explains Souktel Project Manager Luna Aroury. “Employers and youth face challenges just trying to reach each other; there isn’t an easy solution that’s locally relevant. Platforms like Monster aren’t widely used, because they’re not focused on the region and they don’t have good local content in local languages”.

She adds: “At the same time, almost all Algerians have cell phones, and most youth are using WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger constantly. The platform we’ve built is ‘multi-channel’, which means that youth and employers can choose to connect via SMS, WhatsApp, or web. Now anyone, on any type of cell phone, can get information through the channel they’re most comfortable with”. 

“As the project develops, we really hope that that DZCareer will allow young job seekers across Algeria to find opportunities they otherwise would never have known about,” says Andrew Farrand, World Learning’s Deputy Field Director in Algeria. “In that way, this online tool can reinforce the real-world connections the career centers are working to build.”