Virtual Mentorship Programme Connects Professionals with Learners from Forcibly Displaced Backgrounds to Access Digital Jobs
As the global economy slowly transitions toward normalcy, the jury is out on the long term impact on the nature of work. While many companies have embraced remote work as common practice and core to their operations, others have begun to call their staff back to the offices. Yet, there is no doubt that COVID-19 has had a permanent impact on work and a new normal is emerging. Research conducted about the future of the workforce post-COVID-19 found that, moving forward, 20 to 25 percent of the workforce in advanced economies could work from home between three and five days a week. This wide-scale shift toward the normalising of remote work has opened opportunities to many communities that traditionally lacked access to conventional forms of employment.
Displaced populations, marginalised groups and rural communities, who because of the barriers to accessing jobs have high unemployment rates, can now potentially benefit from remote employment opportunities. However, they need to have relevant skills (technical and soft) in order to be employed. Combining remote employment with revolutionary education models could effectively prepare these populations to meet workforce requirements.
Supporting displaced talent
Within displaced populations, there is untapped and motivated talent that requires professional mentoring and assistance. Globally, the integration of displaced populations, especially for refugees in the host countries’ labour markets, remains challenging, their employment rate being significantly lower compared to the native-born population and other migrants. Due to legal limitations, language barriers, or simply the lack of local opportunities, many displaced individuals struggle to secure employment, the possibility of living a dignified and financially independent life is almost non-existent. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to create a safe space where these populations could benefit from professional guidance and support in order to reach their full workforce potential and successfully adapt to employment settings. By fostering effective communication between learners and specialists in various fields, Na’amal contributes to the increase in the remote employment rate of displaced populations. Its vision reflects a world where vulnerable populations have access to the skills and confidence to thrive in dignified employment.
Na’amal’s mentoring programme
With established training initiatives, Na’amal works with partners to support technical and soft skills training of displaced populations, including refugees and host country nationals, in order to link them with dignified remote digital work around the globe. An important component of Na’amal’s support for its learners is through its virtual mentoring programme.
Na’amal’s mentoring programme matches skilled professionals with programme participants who have completed technical training with its partners and Na’amal’s skills development programme. The programme also provides an opportunity for global professionals to contribute to the journey of Na’amal’s learners. Mentors contribute guidance in the soft skills needed to become effective remote workers.
Na’amal’s virtual mentorship programme ensures a safe space for learners to further develop their professional skills, while at the same time, becoming accustomed to online and virtual interaction with experienced and skilled professionals. This builds camaraderie and trust, and provides an opportunity for each to meet people they would not normally encounter in their daily lives. Mentorship is a proven successful way to build capacity within individuals and also to build confidence working remotely. The mentorship programme also mimics the types of interactions that Na’amal’s learners will have with their remote team in their professional career.
Our current cohort of mentees, learners who are part of MIT ReACT’s programme in collaboration with Na’amal, are being mentored by 47 experienced global professionals, who have signed up to provide support and guidance on the skills required to successfully navigate a global career. At the end of the four-month mentorship programme, the mentees will have been guided on essential skills needed to work remotely.
Why companies should partner with Na’amal’s mentorship programme
The motivation for companies to invest in impact projects, such as Na’amal is clear. Employees are increasingly focused on working for companies with values that align with their own, especially with the intensification of social justice movements that have sprung up in many parts of the world in recent years. Research by the Harvard Business Review found that 74% of employees expected their employer to become more actively involved in debates around global issues. Moreover, employee engagement increases when companies act on social issues, with the number of employees considered highly engaged increasing from 40% to 60%.
Most significantly, employee engagement translates into increased profits for companies. Essentially, engaged employees have three times the operating margin and four times the earnings per share compared to companies with low engagement. Employees who participate in meaningful volunteer programmes often become more engaged in their daily work, and increased engagement directly impacts the bottom line. One study showed a roughly $40 million revenue increase when employee engagement rose or fell by just 1%.
When companies maintain strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes through philanthropy, employee volunteer initiatives, and diversity and inclusion work, employees develop pride in where they work, and build stronger connections within their teams. By enhancing their work culture, companies are then able to attract and retain top talent and workers are more likely to stay with their employer longer as a result of the company’s voluntary programmes. The finding that 88% of young people preferred businesses with prominent CSR programmes and 86% would consider leaving their current organisation if their employer’s CSR no longer fit their values provides sufficient evidence that companies need to invest in programmes that allow their employees to contribute to a better and more just society.
Social responsibility is the core value defining the interaction between mentees and mentors in Na’amal’s mentoring programme: mentees are encouraged to explore the world of remote work opportunities through the lens of social justice. The durable soft skills acquired through the mentoring programme help mentees properly adjust to the work environment, while actively searching for constructive opportunities that could allow them to engage with the world’s social issues. Na’amal’s learners gain the skills to successfully navigate digital remote employment and they become committed, active employees, ready to contribute to the growth and development of their communities, by working towards achieving a more responsible and inclusive world.