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Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

Data Science for Improved Education and Employability in Morocco

PI: Ghita Mezzour (, International University of Rabat
U.S. Partner: Kathleen Carley, Carnegie Mellon University

Project Overview:

The mismatch between the job supply and demand creates major social, political, and economic problems in Morocco. Every year, many graduates are unable to find jobs, and the resulting youth unemployment causes major social and political tensions. Paradoxically, at the same time, employers are unable to find candidates with the required skills, and this skills shortage results in missed economic opportunities for the country. Despite the importance of the studying skill mismatch in Morocco, the topic attracts very limited attention in the literature. Moreover, there is a lack of large data sets that researchers can use to systematically study the issue and identify effective interventions to alleviate it.

The goal of this project is to measure the skill mismatch in Morocco and identify measures to align university training with the job market. More specifically, these researchers will collect and analyze multiple large data sets about higher education and the job market in Morocco. They will build profiles of university graduates and job openings in Morocco and identify areas of misalignment between the two. They will also interview human resources staff from multiple organizations to learn about their concerns in more detail. Finally, they will collect traditional and social media discussions about higher education and jobs in Morocco in order to learn about the general population’s concerns about the topic. This project should lead to advances in both education and computer science, and the analysis to be conducted should yield deep and novel insight about areas of mismatch between higher education and the job market in Morocco.

Summary of Recent Events

In the quarter ending June 2017, Dr. Mezzour and her team analyzed the exchange of information and resources among employment stakeholders based on survey data that the USAID local mission gave them access to. USAID staff invited stakeholders from to the private sector, public sector, universities, vocational schools, recruitment agencies, civil society, and youth to the opening day events of the USAID career centers in Casablanca, Tangiers and Marrakech. At these events, stakeholders were handed a survey about their relationship with other stakeholders. The project team found little collaboration between different stakeholders.  Moreover, with the exception of a small university in Casablanca, their results suggest that universities and the private sector do not exchange information about job market needs. They also found that, surprisingly, stakeholders are more likely to provide financial and technical support than they are to exchange information about job market needs. This leads to the hypothesis that the little information exchange is due to mistrust and not lack of means.

5-648 Mezzour
The PI and her team at the USAID career center in Tangier. Photo courtesy of Dr. Mezzour
Based on this work, the PI and her team published a short paper and presented at the International Conference on Social Computing, Behavioral-Cultural Modeling & Prediction and Behavior Representation in Modeling and Simulation (SBP-BRiMS) in Washington, DC.

The team now has an infrastructure that automatically scraps recruitment websites in Morocco every week. They are mainly interested in collecting job ads about offshore vacancies in Casablanca and the automobile sector in Tangiers as requested by the USAID local mission. They have collected 62,000 offshore job ads since January 2017. These job ads are typically either call center job ads or IT offshore job ads. From these ads, they extract job attributes such as job title, company, education level, programming languages and natural languages needed. They found out that, unsurprisingly, call centers do not require high education levels. Indeed, 40% of job ads require only a high school degree. French and English account for 85% of job ads. Starting salaries are low and comparable to minimal wage. Job ads that require 5 years of experience offer salaries that are 80% higher than starting salaries.

On the other hand, the IT offshore sector requires different levels of higher education (high school degree, associate degree, bachelor and master). The most needed programming language is Java, followed by javascript, C, php, .NET, JEE, Shell, R, Python. Some old languages e.g. Cobol are still needed.

The PI, PhD student Ibtissam Makdoun and US Partner Kathleen Carley met at the SBP-BRiMS conference in DC. They discussed project progress and planned Kathleen Carley’s upcoming visit to Morocco.

In the next 3-6 months, the US Partner, Kathleen Carley, will visit Morocco in Fall 2017. She will teach a network science course and take part in a meeting with stakeholders.

The project team will continue analyzing the needs of the offshore sector in Casablanca and write a paper on that. They will also spend more time analyzing the needs of the automobile sector in Tangiers and  survey data about the relationship between stakeholders. They will analyze answers to other questions in the survey as well as investigate reasons that hamper collaboration between the private sector and universities.

Lastly, they will analyze press releases, reports and social media posts by different stakeholders to understand their different perspectives on the problem.

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