The Syrian conflict has created one of the worst humanitarian crises of our generation. In 2019, an estimated 11.9 million people were still in need of various forms of humanitarian assistance, and the poverty rate had reached 83%. The conflict has also caused massive destruction of physical infrastructure and economic activity, with estimated cumulative GDP loss reaching US$226bn between 2011 and 2016, and unemployment reaching 55% in 2019. (Syria Humanitarian Needs Overview, 2019). More recently, the COVID19 pandemic has made the situation even worse due to the temporary suspension of economic activities. While the lock-down measures have been eased, recent adverse geopolitical conditions are affecting the overall economic situation and might further worsen local conditions.
Despite some signs of recovery, the industrial sector is still suffering from the destruction of infrastructure and high levels of emigration of qualified personnel. Human capital development is severely lacking, with about two thirds of government technical and vocational education and training (TVET) centres and complexes damaged or out of service and suffering from a serious deficit of modern equipment. As a result, people can't do training and so can’t get jobs, severely restricting an early recovery of the industrial sector.
To help overcome this, since 2018, with funding from the Government of Japan, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has been supporting capacity-building efforts in Syria by improving technical and vocational training possibilities for disadvantaged groups. Three labs have been rehabilitated at the vocational training centre complexes in Damascus and Aleppo and have been equipped with state-of-the-art equipment from FESTO, a German multinational industrial control and automation company. An interactive English-language lab has been set up at the Management Development Productivity Centre in Damascus with ready-to-use lessons and turnkey interactive exercises to stimulate student’s language learning. Six training courses have been developed, and more than 200 beneficiaries, 30% of them women, have been trained in hydraulics, advanced hydraulics, pneumatic and electro-pneumatic technology, industrial electrical controls, Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) and the English language.