The International Labour Organization

Higher Education for Life and Work – HELW – is a project implemented by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in collaboration with Al Alfi, iCareer, Advance HE, and the UK Prosperity Fund – Skills for Prosperity Egypt. The project partners worked closely with to enhance the capacity of the Ministry for Higher Education and Scientific Research, select Egyptian universities, private sector organizations and university graduates to improve career guidance, and services to match youth into decent employment opportunities.

The overall aim of the programme is to contribute to Egypt’s increased capacity for inclusive economic growth, with particular attention to improving the labour market outcomes for youth from specific target groups. HELW partnered with the Ministry for Higher Education and Scientific Research to support their knowledge and ability to design programmes and policies linked to labour market trends through the development of new and innovative technology platforms. In addition, the project worked directly with young graduates to provide effective career guidance services and assist in transition from education to employment.

HELW was implemented in 2 phases:


Al Alfi Foundation led an Investigation on gender inequality issues when it comes to education, workplace and social stigma. Al Alfi conducted primary research using tools such as surveying, evaluating, and assessing the Egyptian market in terms of readiness to employ and educate women, PwDs and those marginalized in STEM fields.

The findings of this report address GESI issues and provide recommendations related to:

  • Recruitment   criteria, retention   and   progression strategies;
  • Geographic regions and target universities;
  • Priority STEM skills and fields; and
  • Key gaps in the market and industries to target.

Al Alfi Foundation also prepared the following reports and studies:

  • Accessibility Action Plan for HE institutions: Al Alfi Foundation was tasked to prepare a university accessibility assessment action plan for higher education institutions to help make the Egyptian higher education STEM institutions more welcoming, and friendlier for women.
  • Revised Core skills report: Al Alfi Foundation presented a report on the list of core skills to be adopted by STEM higher education institutions and embedded in curriculums to guarantee that graduate students have the correct suitable skill set that would make them employable locally and globally, capable of sustaining a job, and of career growth.
  • Resource Guide: a guide for the teaching institutions on how to embed core skills within their curriculums


Al Alfi collaborated with ILO to build the capacity of graduates in core skills training and English language training; conduct an enterprise development bootcamp for the Business Plan Competition finalists and; complete the MoHESR national strategy.

Al Alfi brought in its expertise to implement activities in the following six areas:

  1. Be Ready Programme – English courses: To carry out English language courses for 630 graduates seeking employment in collaboration with Berlitz. Al Alfi will shortlist 1300 senior graduates or public university graduates to undertake 2 levels (approximately 120 hours) of English language training with
  2. Be Ready Programme – Core skills courses and career guidance: To carry out core skills courses for 1100 graduates seeking employment. Here 1000 graduates undertook a 3-day core skills training based on their needs. Based on the latest World Economic Forum Report on the top skills and skill groups employers see as rising in prominence in the lead-up to 2025, Al Alfi designed a Students Development Program, “Keys to Success,” capitalizing on the main pillars extracted from the report, which focuses on Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Skills. Beneficiaries were assessed using a specially designed assessment tool. The skills tests were designed to measure basic competencies that are typically associated with essential work activities for a wide variety of jobs. The results were used as a reliable way to objectively evaluate the beneficiaries’ abilities and identify their skill gap to be placed in the most needed course.
  3. Business Plan Competition: The Competition is a complete program that focuses on university students who are eager to transform their ideas into real business models. The program includes capacity building, pre-incubation training, one-to-one mentorship for startups, access to online entrepreneurship content, success stories and networking events, and financial cash awards. The Competition was initiated to provide guidance, mentorship, and possible scale-up opportunities to individuals and teams eager to follow their dreams and start their businesses. The Competition offers tracks for university students in various industries focusing on innovation. After the first filtration phase (1860 applicants), the candidates attended a Bootcamp training. Then candidates got a chance to pitch their startup ideas to business leaders, investors, and members of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Egypt. The winners received in-kind prizes.
    In coordination with MoHESR and ISF (Innovators Support Fund), Al Alfi organized one bootcamp for the shortlisted business plan finalists (72 individuals from 36 teams) to provide them with the essentials of developing their enterprise including having an entrepreneurial mindset, validating their business plan idea, creating business models, undertaking competitor’s analysis, industry mapping, market sizing; digital marketing strategies; knowledge on business and legal structures; building a successful team; KPIs; financial projections, start-up valuations and access to finance; and the art of pitching and storytelling.
  4. MoHESR Strategy 2030: Al Alfi was responsible for drafting, editing, translating, and designing the MoHESR’s national strategy. The strategy was composed in close coordination with the Ministry and offered a considered and informed basis for the Ministry’s policy on the development of higher education in Egypt in order to successfully meet the social, economic, and cultural challenges currently faced.
  5. Al Alfi organized a STEM Bootcamp targeting Middle School students (grades 7 to 9) from January 29th to February 5th, 2023, at The Greek campus. The Bootcamp’s goal was to raise awareness and activate students’ participation in the STEM fields, allowing them to learn about various career paths and develop an interest in these fields, triggering their creativity and thus developing a well-rounded education essential to Egypt’s development. The Bootcamp targeted 250 students (257 actual participants) from public national schools who are not offered informal learning programs or do not typically participate in enrichment opportunities that engage students in motivating and fun activities.
  6. Advance HE, a UK-based organization and one of the Career Guidance and Employability project implementers, came to Cairo for three days to provide a training workshop in partnership with Al Alfi foundation for HR managers and CEOs on how to recruit graduate employees and the benefits this has on companies. The event took place at Consoleya, Downtown Cairo. This one-day training workshop supported HR managers and their companies in hiring graduate employees. The workshop assisted companies in better understanding the benefit of employing graduates. It guided how companies can systematically develop and support these young employees to make a measurable impact on their enterprises. This workshop was beneficial for businesses that need more size and scale to have previously engaged with the systematic employment of graduates. The workshop also showed HR managers how their company could develop graduate employment programmes to help their companies flourish. Real case examples and presentations were made from well-known UK companies attending the workshop, like Vodafone and British Petroleum.