Bridging skills gaps in Jordan’s ICT sector

Brief: 

The mission of The Information Technology Association of Jordan (int@j) is to grow Jordan’s information and communication technology (ICT) sector by implementing educational initiatives and internship programmes that bridge the gap between the industry and public sector and upskill its local workforce.

The problem addressed by the campaign: 
  • Incompatibility between universities’ output and ICT industry needs
  • Lack of human resources at the right quantity and quality
  • Students lacking practical experience
  • Students lacking soft skills (communication, presentation, leadership and time management) and project management, sales and marketing, technical writing, human resources, and management skills
  • Weak English language skills
  • Lack of entrepreneurial skills
Solution: 

int@j sought to align ICT sector needs with the skill sets of graduates in ICT-related fields through bridging educational programmes and internships:

  • Private-sector visits to universities to create awareness in 2008, 2009 and 2010 (most of the 29 universities visited)
  • Annual industry academia workshops in 2008, 2009 and 2010
  • Graduates Internship Programme (50% subsidy on graduates’ salaries for one year and soft skills training) – launched in March 2009
  • Virtual ICT Academy (three to six months bridging programme, including soft, business and technical skills, and English language) – launched in mid-2011
  • Higher Education Portal (collaboration platform to connect students with employers) – launched in June 2011
  • Launching ICT Academy in 2012
Impact: 
  • int@j has promoted and increased collaboration with universities to bridge the skills gap in the ICT industry through several initiatives.
  • The int@j Graduates Internship Programme put 1,200 graduates into positions at a 50% salary subsidy in 2010. After a very small dropout rate (5% to 10%), over 90% remained in full-time employment in year two.
  • This allowed companies to hire twice as many graduates.
Why has it worked?: 
  • int@j is a public-private partnership to support the sector, to raise its competitiveness and enhance its growth on the regional and international level.
  • int@j works closely with academia to develop and upskill Jordan’s local workforce and enhance its employability in the ICT sector.
  • int@j’s membership is open to all organizations that have a vested interest in ICT-related sectors. This diversified representation in companies and economic sectors attests to int@j’s critical role as a focal point where ICT enterprises can congregate with industries that largely depend on their products and services, and vice versa.
Conclusions and Recommendations: 
  • Promote and increase cooperation between universities and the ICT Industry.
  • Allow ICT industry-led curricula in universities.
  • Develop dynamic curricula to fit industry needs.
  • Establish specialized training centres and specialized training courses in universities.
  • Integrate research on ICT trends and new technologies through joint programmes between academia and private sector.
  • Enhance English language (programmes should be in English) and promote TOEFL and IELTS.
  • Focus on practical experience.
  • Focus on academic staff quality and competency.
Foundational Issues: 
Critical skills gaps
Level of Collaboration: 
Level 3: Collaboration on an industry or regional level
Region: 
Middle East/North Africa
Economic and political context: 
  • Building on the nation’s core asset of highly educated and skilled human resources, int@j envisages for Jordan’s ICT sector to establish the position of a leading regional ICT hub and an internationally recognized exporter of ICT products and services.
  • ICT sector exports to more than 45 countries. Major export markets:
    • USA: US$ 48 million (22%)
    • Saudi Arabia: US$ 47 million (21%)
    • Iraq: US$ 29 million (13%)
    • UAE: US$ 16 million (7%)
    • Palestine: US$ 9 million (4%)
  • Regional opportunities:
    • Saudi Arabia (more than US$ 4 billion total IT spending in 2009), 50% of GCC spending
    • UAE (more than US$ 1 billion IT spending projected in 2010)
    • Kuwait (more than US$ 700 million IT spending in 2008)
    • Qatar (more than US$ 400 million IT spending in 2009)
About the Author(s): 

The Information Technology Association of Jordan (int@j) was founded in 1999 as an industry-support association for Jordan’s ICT sector. It represents the majority of private-sector ICT employers and works with the government to grow the skill base needed in the sector. It effectively acts as an economic development agency focused on Jordan’s US$ 2 billion ICT sector.