Hisham Hijjawi Collage of Technology, representing young people who may enter the IT sector in Palestine
The COVID-19 pandemic has put thousands of livelihoods and careers in Palestine in jeopardy. Experts predict that the Palestinian economy will reduce by a minimum of 7.6% in 2020. Facing these economic hardships, many Palestinian business owners had to close down because they lacked the supplies or training necessary to continue their businesses digitally. Digital technology, as a whole, has been one of Palestine’s main economic shortcomings. A new initiative can help to address Palestine’s current digital ailments as well as provide job opportunities for the Palestinian youth through the IT sector in Palestine.

TechStart Project Making Waves

The Technology for Youth and Jobs (TechStart) Project will receive funding from a $15 million USD grant from the World Bank. Its mission is to improve Palestine’s IT sector and create more economic opportunities for the youth in Palestine. The project’s end goal is to help the Palestinian IT sector increase the number of high-quality jobs and establish a sustainable economic market for IT-related positions in Palestine. This project directs itself toward the thousands of yearly IT graduates from Palestinian universities who struggle to find jobs after college.

IT Sector Creating Jobs for Youth

According to Kanthan Shankar, the World Bank Country Director for the West Bank and Gaza, IT development aimed at creating job opportunities for young people in Palestine is crucial. This is especially true considering that the youth in Palestine “constitute 30% of the population and suffer from acute unemployment.”

Moreover, IT jobs offer remote positions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, working remotely from home has been necessary for many to remain employed. Another aspect of the project is to draw in investments from foreign companies. By spreading information about the IT sector’s potential and market opportunities, the project hopes that global tech companies will then invest in Palestinian IT firms (equipment, training, etc.) and foster new business relations with these smaller firms.

Despite the fact that these developments for the IT sector in Palestine received authorization last month, Palestine has been continuing to improve its digital economy every year. This project, however, might be the boost necessary to make IT a priority not only for the Palestinian economy but also for young college graduates looking for IT jobs in Palestine.

IT Sector Becoming More Prominent

More familiar career paths such as agriculture or trade have overshadowed the IT sector in Palestine. However, IT is slowly becoming more prominent throughout the Palestinian territories. Between 2008 and 2010, the IT industry in Palestine increased to 5% from 0.8% of GDP. Palestine’s digital growth does not stop there. By 2017, there were 241 tech startup companies in Palestine that were responsible for the creation of 1,247 jobs.

The IT sector in Palestine is still in its infancy, and it will take some time to realize its full potential as a sustainable economic outlet. However, the future of Palestine’s youth and IT sector are promising. Within at least five years, college-educated Palestinian men and women will have more IT employment opportunities than ever before if the project’s goals come to fruition.

Maxwell Karibian
Photo: Flickr