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Title: HQSF Study on employment opportunities and market assessment for university graduates in Palestine: the relevance of HQSF fields of support
Authors: Inoue, Tomoo
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: ACM
Abstract: Hani Qaddumi Scholarship Foundation (HQSF) is a not-for-profit foundation that believes in the power of education and philanthropy to promote development and societal progress in Palestine. The Foundation provides scholarships and financial aid to talented and gifted young Palestinians to complete their undergraduate and graduate studies in Palestine and abroad. The Foundation is looking to reexamine its grant mandate and policies to ensure their compliance with the needs of the Palestinian labor market. As it stands, HQSF offers scholarships to Palestinian undergraduate students in the fields of Engineering and Information Technology (IT) exclusively, who are currently attending or planning to attend local universities or the American University of Beirut (AUB). Graduate scholarships are offered to students to allow them to study in a select group of accredited universities, in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Canada, in more diverse fields that include Engineering, Computer Sciences and IT, MBA, and Fine Arts. This study surveyed a pool of Palestinian undergraduate and graduate students that have received support from HQSF, and completed their studies, according to academic concentration and specialization. The study also examined the breakdown of unemployment levels by the field of specialization during the same period. The comparison between the two data sets provided an approximation of the mismatch between supply and demand in the Palestinian labor market. This information was then used to evaluate the current scholarship offerings of HQSF and their alignment with the actual needs of the Palestinian labor market. The demand-side assessment was complemented with interviews with various employers in the Palestinian market to evaluate their preferences and needs in terms of hires. The interviews shed light on the needs of the Palestinian marketplace along the lines of the sectors associated with the specializations under consideration. Besides the academic qualifications required, the interviews shed light on the types of skill sets needed to make graduates more employable. Across all sectors, the lack of adequate “soft skills” was highlighted by all interviewees. These skills comprise of communication, presentation, writing, and even language skills, including both Arabic and English. This information greatly assisted in assessing the supply and demand gaps given the current conditions, in addition to the analysis of various sources of secondary data from the past three years. The HQSF grantees were reached to assess their labor market outcomes through two sets of questionnaires: one set for undergraduate grantees and one set for graduate grantees. The questionnaire focused on three dimensions: job search, salary, and employment sector. The gathered data helped inform the study of the specific academic backgrounds and specializations that gave the scholarship recipients the most competitive advantages in the market.
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