|Implementing organisation||Mercy Corps Europe|
|Period of implementation||01/2021 – 03/2023|
|Digital tools||Digital skills|
|Sector||Education – Training|
|Contribution to SDGs|
What is the project aiming to achieve?
With the restricted movement of goods and people in/out of the West Bank and especially Gaza, traditional Palestinian businesses that rely on imports/exports are highly vulnerable and travel for international work opportunities can be denied by Israeli and Palestinian authorities. This has resulted in one of the highest unemployment rates in the region for Palestinians, especially in Gaza where the unemployment rate hovers around 60% for educated youth.
The project intends to continue addressing the lack of employment opportunities for Palestinians by providing them with the skills and connections to earn an income in the digital economy and side step many of the current restrictions on the movement of people and physical goods in and out of Palestine.
The issue of unemployment is a challenge that affects everyone in Palestine, but it specifically affects educated youth - particularly women - who are the primary participants in Gaza Sky Geeks (GSG) programming, which this project is part of.
GSG is working not just to train individuals with the technical and professional skills to succeed in the global digital economy, but to create a sustainable ecosystem of these skilled coders, freelancers, outsourcers, and start-ups allowing Palestinians to harness the one strong piece of infrastructure - the internet - and side step physical restrictions to sustainably growing the economy for the foreseeable future.
Although a number of actors support tech-enabled economic development in Palestine, GSG’s focus on the culture of community building is unique; it integrates this fully into its trainings and takes a combined, ecosystem-building approach that puts entrepreneurship, freelancing, coding, and other online initiatives under one physical roof and creates synergies.
Taken together, the two components of GSG’s digital education programming - the Code Academy and the Freelance Academy - will result in hundreds of Palestinians being technically skilled for, and connected to, employment opportunities in the digital marketplace.
The GSG Code Academy is a direct response to the rising global demand for developer talent. After a rigorous interview process, the project selects a cohort for two months of intensive, full-time classroom learning supplemented with an additional four months of project-based work for real-world clients sourced by GSG. Developers who graduate are qualified technically to work as junior and mid-level software developers in most global technology companies.
Pairing this state-of-the-art coding education with the professional skills and connections to work effectively with global clients can further grow Palestine’s capacity and reputation as a preferred outsourcing hub. GSG’s Freelance Academy, launched in July 2017 and based on several years of piloting and refining these approaches by Mercy Corps, helps Gazans attract and retain clients that need their technical skills. The current 12-week freelancing mentorship programme supports those who are already skilled in highly demanded areas to become successful online freelancers by providing intensive mentorship sessions in topics such as building a compelling online freelancing profile, conducting effective social media marketing, and using professional English.