Around 85% of refugees worldwide are hosted by developing countries, who are grappling with their own socio-economic challenges and struggling employment rates. The chances of these refugees ever becoming financially self-reliant are very low, and this eventually leads to a continuous and unsustainable dependency on international aid.
WFP’s EMPACT (formerly known as Tech for Food) was therefore started to help young refugees and communities hosting them build a brighter future and have better livelihood. EMPACT provides digital skills through a tailored, focused vocational training programme. It partners with leading tech firms to connect trainees with online work opportunities. Participants in the programme are able to learn everything from navigating the web and annotating images, to training in office software, creative skills in image editing and visual production, and hard coding skills like HTML and python.
So far 18,000 students across twelve campuses in Lebanon and Iraq have been trained with 65% of the participants being female students. In Iraq, almost 20 percent of the students generated an income through online work and 33 percent of the alumni were employed 4 months after graduating.
On the WFP EMPACT website, WFP says “Technology is changing the future of work. And there’s no reason refugees and vulnerable host communities should be left behind in the process”
“Those with the skills to take advantage of shifting work skills have the chance to lift themselves and their families out of poverty—and to build strong foundations in their respective home and host countries. If crisis does strike, remote digital work means those who are forced to move don’t have to lose their livelihoods along with their homes. The flip-side is that in the coming years people without digital skills will fall further behind” it adds.