The humanitarian crisis in Iraq is one of the most extensive experiences worldwide, with the fastest displacement rate since 2014. Vulnerable populations in Iraq include both the recent and long-term displaced, those who remained in conflict areas, those who returned to newly liberated areas (NLAs), and communities hosting displaced people. All aspects of life have been disrupted for those affected by the conflict, including access to health care, education, income opportunities, safety, and security. The Emergency Livelihoods Cluster (ELC) specific objective, “Livelihood sources are protected for IDPs in-camp, IDPs out-ofcamp and returnees through emergency livelihood support (livelihoods support)” The ELC strategy is designed to help conflict-affected people cope with the impact of the crisis, improve social cohesion and reduce tensions that can lead to violence, secondary displacement, and involuntary returns.
The private sector has been negatively impacted due to several factors, including insecurity, reduced government budgets and spending, disruption to value chains and normal business operations. Competition for private-sector jobs increased in the Kurdistan Region (KRI) as people left government jobs, and IDPs and Syrian refugees sought employment. At the same time, labour market assessments revealed that available jobs went unfilled as private sector actors faced challenges in identifying qualified employees. In some areas of Iraq, the emergency stage was overcome more quickly, and partners started to transition to early recovery, which included capacity building and private sector development.
One of the critical programmes livelihoods partners are implementing is vocational training (VT) to help build capacities and support individuals to become more resilient and access local employment. Livelihoods partners and communities have found utility in these programmes as they increase opportunities for beneficiaries to meet their basic needs while helping to decrease social tensions.
With the high level of need, partners often provide vocational training opportunities in the same VT centres and the same subject areas. It was observed that partners were offering VT at varying quality standards and price ranges, which necessitated the production of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Other identified issues include - different rates for trainers, stipend amounts for trainees, beneficiary selection when there is limited financial reach for all in need, gender barriers, cultural limitations on certain types of work, and others addressed in this document. As such, partners collaborated to produce guidelines for use by the many organisations providing VT across Iraq. After the cluster endorses this SOP, partners are encouraged to implement VT projects based on guidelines from this document.