Skills for Trade and Economic Diversification (STED) in Egypt – Fast Track Initiative

Sector/ Subsector : Food Processing and Furniture sectors in Egypt (as a part of ILO’s Fast Track 2014)

Implementing Agency: International Labour Organization

Project’s Partner (s) : Egypt, Kuwait, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Swedish International Cooperation Agency (Sida), ITFC, IsDB, UNDP

Brief Description: Output 3 of the 2014 Fast Track Work Plan targets promotion of skills development to expand opportunities for the creation of decent employment in priority exports sectors. It aims to enhance the skills of workers in selected export sectors in Egypt through the application of the ILO’s STED tool. It aims to build stronger links between skills development and trade development, and therefore to help to match the needs of the industry and the skills of job seekers in sectors that have potential to increase exports and to contribute to economic diversification.



Overall Result
  • A total of 26 national and sectoral stakeholders from Egypt were trained during a two-day STED training workshop. The objective of the training workshop was to enhance the knowledge and capacity of national and sectoral stakeholders to analyse skill needs in export-oriented sectors, and to design effective skills response strategies that will contribute to higher and more diversified exports with more and better employment.
  • A “Regional Knowledge Sharing Workshop on Trade and Skills” in October 2014 in Cairo strengthened awareness of the “trade, jobs, and skills” nexus among regional stakeholders. It highlighted the role of skills development in translating trade openness into more and better jobs. It brought together representatives of ten Arab Countries to exchange knowledge and experience on how skill gaps constrain trade growth, and to share experience on how to overcome such constraints through skills development.
  • Skills strategies and STED reports were developed and validated for the Food Processing and Furniture Sectors in Egypt. The skills strategies outlined priority actions on skills development to build the productive capacity and competitiveness of the two sectors.
Target Countries:Arab countries
Duration: 09 months09 months
Start date: March 2014
End date:December 2014
Expected Results: Developed and delivered STED Training. Organized Knowledge Sharing Workshop. Skills strategy developed and STED report validated in Egypt for two selected export sectors.
Expected impact: Enhance the employment effects of trade and trade-related policies by ensuring the alignment of human resource related policies with policy changes in the area of trade.
Approved budget:$ 353,114
List of deliverablesDeliverable 1: STED Training module developed and delivered in Egypt.

Deliverable 2: Regional Knowledge Sharing Event on the trade and skills development successfully organized.

Deliverable 3: Skills strategies developed and STED reports validated in Egypt for two export sectors.

Main Lessons learnt:Lesson 1: There is potential for skills-focused interventions to meaningfully improve the productive capacity, capabilities, and competitiveness of the Egyptian food processing and furniture sectors.

Lesson 2: Involvement and engagement of national and sectoral stakeholders are essential in implementation and sustainability of the project’s results.

Lesson 3: It is imperative to establish a close collaboration between the project team and national focal points.

Lesson 4: Priority and needs of beneficiary countries must be factored into the content of these activities with corresponding delivery modalities.

Recommendation (s) for


Promoting skills development is a collective responsibility of government, social partners, the private sector and other stakeholders. The Arab States need to invest more in skills development, and employers’ need to increase cooperation with the government in providing information about skill needs and gap, and in promoting lifelong learning. Vocational training should be integrated into all forms of education, beginning with primary education. Establishing Arab regional qualification framework, quality assurance mechanism, and skill recognition system would contribute to building skills relevant to labour market needs, and in labor migration.

Social dialogue, is imperative as skills are important but without social dialogue it cannot contribute to equal benefits of trade. Feedback from country participants in the Regional Knowledge Sharing Workshop was :

  • Significant gaps were seen in human resource management, and opportunities to use improved human resource management as a tool to improve skills.
  • More support is needed to improve the efficiency of HR of SMEs through training HR personnel
  • There is a need to improve the image of TVET.
  • Social dialogue is a foundation of skills development for issues such as productivity, quality assurance of specifications and quality standards.
  • There is a need for Arab countries to redirect investments to productive economic sectors where there are value added jobs.
  • There is a need for cooperatives to mobilize local communities for collaborative efforts to generate employment, skills development, trade expansion and value chain participation.
  • A broader approach is needed for quality assurance.
  • The STED program is relevant to North African countries. A particular interest was expressed by representatives of Tunisia.