Career Centers in Afghanistan Help Students Prepare for Employment

Lack of career counseling is a major issue in Afghan universities. Afghan universities need comprehensive career-readiness programs to create strong links between education and the demands of its economy.  The Center for International Education through the University Support and Workforce Development Project (USWDP), a five-year, USAID-funded project, is addressing this need in Afghanistan by establishing career centers in 11 public universities.


These centers provide a variety of services to students that will help increase their preparation for employment.  The centers provide training in soft skills, computer and IT training, internship programs, mentoring opportunities and career counseling services to a wide range of male and female undergraduates in the universities.


Soft skill training helps students learn basic skills needed to apply for jobs, do interviews (right), and write CVs, as well as learn appropriate behaviors for employees.  One undergraduate from Kabul Medical University said. “Soft skills training enabled me to be flexible in the workplace, and act responsible towards every assignment. The soft skills training made me a good email writer, and taught me how to perform more efficient and productively at the workplace"


To make the soft skills training available to more students, the project designed a Mobile Soft Skills Training (MSST) application for students. Students can install the MSST application on their mobile phones to learn a wide range of personal development skills.


To create partnerships between Afghan universities and the private sector, the project assisted the universities in establishing University Industry Advisory Councils (UIAC). UIACs perform an advisory role to universities in developing market-oriented curricula and skills necessary for student success in finding jobs and building careers. Through career centers, UIACs provide internship programs for university students.  These partnerships also sponsor Job Fairs where employers and students can interact.


USWDP has supported UIACs and career center in various ways. The project equipped career centers with office supplies, laptop and desktop computers, ICT equipment, solar power, and internet access. The project is also training heads of career centers, other career center staff, and government counterparts at each target university on career counseling, internships and placement of students in the job market. The project is currently working to institutionalize career centers within the permanent staffing structure of the universities.


Services provided by the UIACs and the career centers are intended to facilitate the transition of thousands of students from education to the workforce. Early experience indicates that students who are placed in internships often end up employed by the companies that host the internship.


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