Every day, across the developing world, thousands of youth leave rural towns and villages to look for jobs in urban centers. But as this trend of work-based migration grows, so too does competition between young people for employment in the “big city”. All too often, many youth find themselves out of work and stranded in unfamiliar places.
But the best jobs aren’t always in the capital or the regional business hub. A key World Bank report on rural-urban migration suggests that work-based migrants often have “imperfect information about the type or quality” of jobs available, and resort to “informal channels such as friends” to find out where work is located. The upshot? A good job close to home might go unnoticed if social contacts don’t know about it.
Starting in April, Souktel began tackling this problem through a new SMS-based initiative in Palestine–which reaches out directly to youth and employers in the smaller towns of the Northern and Southern West Bank. The new service connects job-seekers in these rural areas with skill training workshops, CV-writing mentorship, and jobs—all via text-messaging. The campaign aims to make the job hunt easier for rural youth, while promoting greater economic development in these less populated parts of the country.
“In Palestine, most of the attention is focused on urban centers like Ramallah or Hebron,” explains Souktel’s Mohammad Kilany, who oversees the new service. “But job-seekers live all across the country, not just in these cities. We saw a real lack of good resources for youth in smaller communities when it comes time to find a job. Employers were having the same challenges. So we’ve decided to put a special focus on these marginalized regions”.
The new SMS service is already growing quickly: In the first few weeks alone, close to 500 rural youth in the southern West Bank have signed up from their mobiles to get job alerts, and to search for work.
“To us this signals that there’s a clear information gap in these communities,” says Kilany. “We’re determined to fill that gap by providing real-time listings of jobs and training. This month we linked youth in the southern West Bank with courses on Advanced CV writing, interview techniques and presentation skills. These were all taught by business leaders from the local community. Next month we want to add even more rural regions to the
service, and connect more employers outside the big cities with skilled workers”.