Ahmed Chami (left), former general manager of MS North Africa, hands Hakima El Moutafih her diploma from Microsoft during the Diplms Chmeurs graduation ceremony last year.
CASABLANCA, Morocco, Oct. 10, 2001 — In Morocco, where the unemployment rate exceeds 20 percent, a good education — even a graduate degree — provides no guarantee of a job. Many well-educated Moroccans suffer long-term unemployment — some for as long as 10 years.
And while approximately 30 million people live in this North African nation, there are only about 300,000 PCs and 50,000 Internet accounts — a challenge and an opportunity for the information-technology (IT) industry.
Through Microsoft’s International Community Affairs program, Microsoft employees in Morocco took time out of their daily jobs to craft and execute a plan that would bring many unemployed educated professionals into the IT industry. The year-old Unemployed Graduates Program (also called Dipl
meurs) helps university graduates who have been out of work for more than a year obtain IT certification and get a job in the IT industry.
Working with local partners, including Morocco’s Ministry of Employment, Microsoft Morocco selected 40 people for a six-month Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) program. In the program’s first year, 39 of the 40 students graduated, and 38 received lucrative job offers within two months of leaving Microsoft’s program.
“Many of our graduates were highly disillusioned with their employment prospects, as most had been unemployed two or more years,” says Christopher Jones, manager of Microsoft International Community Affairs. “Some, in addition to holding at least one and sometimes several university degrees, had attended a number of other (non-IT) training programs in the past with no success. But, with this program, most of these students were optimistic about their future. They heard about the expanding opportunities for IT workers in Morocco and were motivated to finish their studies, pass their exams, and finally secure a lucrative job.”
Students in the program varied greatly in their education, including doctorates and other advanced degrees in physics, applied mathematics, environmental chemistry, engineering, applied geology and biomathematics.
Hakima El Moutafih, from the city of F
s, obtained a position at Royal Marocaine d’Assurances, a Moroccan insurance company, as an IT engineer. She participated in the Unemployed Graduates Program and was hired as soon as she received her certifications from Microsoft.
“I believe that Microsoft’s initiative is excellent insofar as it has allowed young graduates with unemployment for many months or years to be able to find hope,” she says. “But beyond this, Microsoft offers a passport for entry into a professional life.”
Moutafih said she’d been looking for a job since 1997. “Unfortunately, no employer seems to want to give a chance to a young graduate,” she says. “That generally evokes the lack of experience. With the Microsoft Certified Professional program, it will be completely different, because this diploma is sought by the companies and mixes practice and theory.”
The program has continued into a second year, with 48 students currently enrolled. Additionally, the Moroccan Ministry of Employment has worked with Microsoft to expand the program to include 5,000 students over the next three years, hoping to help fill the approximately 10,000 open IT positions in Morocco. This year, based on Microsoft’s work, the government launched a 10-month program that will bring more than 1,600 unemployed graduates into the Moroccan IT industry.
Nabil Chebbi, marketing manager at Microsoft Morocco, says that the program is not only designed to give its participants appropriate IT knowledge but also to assist them in managing their careers, helping them hone skills such as writing effective r
s and succeeding in job interviews.
“The program is providing very well-rounded professionals into the IT industry, and we’re proud to be a part of it,” Chebbi says. “We’re a small team here, and we’re glad we could pool our resources to put this program together for our unemployed graduates.”
Due to the success of the program, Microsoft International Community Affairs is expanding it to Tunisia and Algeria.