Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 2010 promoting local culture and sustainable initiatives through education and the integration of scientific ingenuity in Southwest Morocco. We operate North Africa's largest fog harvesting project, providing villages with access to potable water. Our Water School and Girls' E-Learning Programs build capacity in the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Through our Ethnographic Field School, researchers and students engage with local communities in Agadir, Sidi Ifni, and the rural Aït Baamrane region for meaningful cross-cultural exchange.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Agadir youth RISE to the challenge of building employability skills at new project’s Integration Day

Tuesday 10 November 2015, fifty-eight young people from Agadir in southwest Morocco gathered at Dar Si Hmad to launch the 2015-2016 RISE Program, part of a new project on “Engaging the Next Generation: Unlocking Employability Potential among Agadir Youth”. Integration Day brought together students from around the city to get to know each other, celebrate their acceptance into the highly competitive
program, and learn more about the skills they will gain over the next seven months. Dar Si Hmad’s RISE Program is a one-year professional development initiative for university students and young professionals aged 19-25. The Program builds from Dar Si Hmad’s previous workforce development speaker series and professional development workshops to provide young Moroccans with the professional competencies to enhance their employability and entrepreneurship potential.

RISE participants are university students who, given extant realities, currently have low employment prospects. More than 49% of Moroccan youth are either unemployed or no longer at school, and university students and recent graduates have an even higher rate of unemployment than those without a degree. Previous participants in Dar Si Hmad’s professional development initiatives have expressed frustration at overcrowded classrooms and the lack of practical training. There is little job security available and young people generally only have access to low-paying, exploitative entry-level jobs with few chances for advancement.

Some RISE Finalists celebrate their success at Integration Day
Over seven hundred young people in Agadir applied to RISE, a testament to the need for these kinds of programs in Morocco and to the commitment of young people to furthering their potential and building their communities. In order to apply, students had to write a reflective essay communicating why they wanted to join the program and what they hoped to gain from it. Selected candidates were then required to attend a formal interview at Dar Si Hmad, giving them real-life application practice. This experience gave even those students unable to participate in the full program a chance to build their skills and develop their confidence.
Over the next seven months, RISE finalists will engage in a variety of programming to help them become proactive agents equipped with the interpersonal abilities and professional skills valued in the job market. Modules in professional behavior, information communication and technology skills, techniques for job-seeking, civic engagement, entrepreneurism, and leadership will assist young people in finding productive employment or founding their own business. Tailored workshops, led by local and international professionals, will teach a variety of skills (such as accounting, competency in Microsoft Office, entrepreneurial savvy, and business management) in practical ways. Multi-media and online learning platforms will be used to give students additional practice and resources.


Dar Si Hmad will also be hosting a variety of young speakers who themselves have transitioned into successful career paths through the combination of skill, initiative and hard work; these young people will inspire and mentor RISE participants. Throughout the program, Dar Si Hmad staff and the RISE Team will have regular office hours available to students in order to build mentoring relationships and expand on young people’s learning during formal workshops and events. Students will also profit from specially scheduled activities highlighting public service and volunteering projects.
The culmination of the RISE Program will be a competitive “Funding for the Future” project. Students will make use of the multiple skills they have built to propose a business start-up and/or projects that continue to build their capacity. “Funding for the Future” will be run jointly with THRIVE, another Dar Si Hmad program working on vocational skills. Two prizes of 500 USD will be awarded to participants to support the development and implementation of their projects. All RISE participants will receive support during the program through capacity building, skills growth, and qualified mentorship to further their ideas.
RISE benefits its participants by ensuring they have the practical skills needed to increase employment potential, ensure consistent career growth, and become productive members of society.
The RISE Program gives Agadir youth to mentoring;
here, a finalist talks with Dar Si Hmad's President Dr Jamila Bargach
Many of the RISE finalists are young women who face substantial career barriers and challenges; they will benefit from peer-group trainings and targeted discussions. But the program is good news for many more than the fifty-eight people selected as finalists. More broadly, the program aims to re-engage young people driven to apathy by the perceived lack of opportunities, and thereby diversify the body of active economic citizens and community members, encouraging learning through volunteering and hands-on engagement. Participants’ families will glean advantages from the students’ newfound skills; siblings, relatives, and friends will gain inspiration. The broader community will see an increase in youth-led projects and higher levels of civic engagement, improving neighborhoods throughout Agadir. After completing the program, participants will be equipped with new skills, confidence, civic awareness, and the drive to succeed. Employers in Agadir will benefit from this growing pool of qualified workes, sustaining business expansion and economic growth. The young new workers’ incomes will, on a micro-level, support and stabilize households, and, on a macro-level, add to the local economy and entrepreneurship. The finalists’ multiple civic engagement projects will build pride in southwestern Morocco.

RISE Participants share a laugh
while breaking the ice
At Integration Day, RISE finalists were able to meet the cohort of young people who will become their close friends and professional colleagues over the next seven months. Interactive icebreakers had the students and trainers alike laughing, while a motivational speech from Dar Si Hmad’s Director Dr. Jamila Bargach inspired participants for the hard work and personal growth to come. Each group spent time with a facilitator
RISE Participants determined shared
guidelines for commitment to the program,
including respect and professionalism
discussing the values and developing the rules they wanted to abide by during their time at RISE, strengthening the young people’s commitment to excellence and creating group accountability for shared progress. The day concluded with informal discussions between Dar Si Hmad Staff, the RISE Team, and RISE finalists, complete with drinks and sweets. The fun day launched what is sure to be a powerful, life-changing experience for the students. We know they will RISE to the challenge of improving their lives and building their communities.


RISE Finalists speak with Visiting PhD Researcher Becca
Farnum from King's College London during Integration Day