Mercy Corps - Youth Employment Program Manager - Iraq

This material is cross-posted from the Peace and Collaborative Development Network, and appears to be an interesting opportunity for the Humphrey community.   This is meant for information sharing purposes only. 
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Note that this role is pending funding.

Mercy Corps has worked in Iraq continuously since 2003 with a strong presence in the Basra and southern areas of the country. Mercy Corps implements both emergency response and longer-term development programs assisting Iraqis – internally displaced persons (IDPs), host communities and other vulnerable groups throughout the country. While remaining responsive to the urgent needs of people affected by conflict and displacement in Iraq, Mercy Corps conducts longer term development activities with a focus on identified strategic priority areas: conflict management skills building, capacity building of local institutions, and transformative youth empowerment. Through its youth programming Mercy Corps in Iraq helps youth successfully navigate life’s transitions and build resilience to the shocks and stresses of transitional environments. Basra-based employability programming will aim to provide sustainable income generation options and market-based training in a part of Iraq with high unemployment while leveraging local oil producers’ value chains.

Mercy Corps and our stakeholders in the public and private sector will prepare male and female Iraqi youth in five communities in the Basra Governorate for successful employment and further learning, establish the first internationally accredited Vocational Training Centre in Iraq, and build a robust business and/or partnership model for the long-term sustainability of the youth employability program. The program will prepare youth for four economic pathways: employment (potentially in extractives supply chains), Advanced Learning/Training through the vocational training center to be established by Mercy Corps, internships, or microenterprise.

The Youth Employment Program Manager is responsible for the overall implementation of the vocational training and youth employment program including creating the strategic plan and ensuring it to be implemented on time, on scope, and on budget. The Program Manger will design and implement a comprehensive inception and startup phase (including partner identification and vetting processes), help develop the monitoring and evaluation plan, and design and implement the stakeholder engagement strategy. This will include working in proximity with the country management team, support services (Finance, Administration, Logistics) and Programmatic staff in Basra, Baghdad, Erbil and others, as well as close liaison with stakeholder groups to ensure that day-to-day project activities are implemented in accordance with the timeline, action plan and budget developed. S/he will ensure that the youth employability program is implemented in a coordinated manner with other grants being run by Mercy Corps in Iraq, to ensure effective use of resources. The Program Manager will develop a sustainability plan to ensure the employability program and vocation training center provide value to the community into the future.


Vision and Strategy
  • Ensure that the youth employment program fits within Mercy Corps’ Iraq’s strategic plan and provide input into the country strategic development plan and program development efforts.

Program Management
  • Develop and regularly update, in consultation with the program and support teams and partners, an implementation strategy and a detailed project implementation plan (Work Breakdown Structure, Program Schedule, etc.) for both employability and infrastructure components of program.       This should include planning for human resources, monitoring and evaluation, transition (exit strategy), iterative market assessments, and program communications.
  • Develop and regularly update, in coordination with the program and support teams and partners, procurement plans and forecast program expenditures.
  • Liaise with HQ teams, partners and Mercy Corps staff to develop sub-grant agreements with partners, and ensure timely signature and monitoring.
  • Monitor issues as they arise during program implementation, and coordinate with team members and partners to ensure they are resolved.       Troubleshoot, as needed, to prevent disruptions in daily program activities.
  • Oversee program documentation and filing, ensuring that information is organized accordingly to reporting, auditing and internal project management initiative needs of the program. Ensure required levels of confidentiality.
  • Foster a collaborative relationship with partners and work closely with them to improve program implementation, as well as to identify and resolve implementation obstacles.
  • Ensure that there are effective communication channels with the finance and operations teams, to ensure program objectives are achieved.

  • Liaise with donor and local representatives to collaboratively implement the project and build a relationship of trust.
  • Participate in a variety of external forums/workshops/conference/sector coordination meetings to share best practices and findings of the project with the government and development community.
  • Develop positive working relationships and coordinate/collaborate with partner organizations and international and national agencies active in the target area.
  • Develop strong relationship with local government to ensure buy-in and support for program.
  • Liaise with local authorities and program stakeholders, ensure a synergy with other Mercy Corps project partners and involved stakeholders.

Team Management
  • Provide direct and ongoing supervision and managerial support to all program staff, including carrying out regular performance reviews.  
  • With support of the Country Program Director, help staff identify and take advantage of professional development opportunities. Contribute to the country team building efforts.
  • Design appropriate training programs and schedule for staff, partners and beneficiaries. Monitor and ensure adequate staffing throughout the program.

Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Operations Management
  • Work with Youth MEL (Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning) staff to generate practical information that can be used for ongoing program decision-making while also capturing results at the impact level.
  • Develop relationships with regional and international technical support experts to ensure that program reflects best practices for youth engagement and employment.
  • Coordinate with program, finance and administrative staff to ensure systems are in place to support activities including logistics, procurement, security, administration and human resources.
  • Create and maintain systems ensuring effective and transparent use of financial resources for timely and informative reporting in line with donor and Mercy Corps regulations.

  • Work closely with the country team’s security focal point to ensure that program is contributing to and responding to safety and security plans and procedures.
  • Ensure that program is implemented with a clear analysis and understanding of security management priorities.

Organizational Learning
As part of our commitment to organizational learning and in support of our understanding that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities they serve - we expect all team members to commit 5% of their time to learning activities that benefit Mercy Corps as well as themselves.

Accountability to Beneficiaries
Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts towards accountability, specifically to our beneficiaries and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging beneficiary communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.

SUPERVISORY RESPONSIBILITY: The Program Manager will supervise the program implementation teams for the privately-funded employability program in Basra.  

REPORTS DIRECTLY TO: Youth Sector Manager
WORKS DIRECTLY WITH: Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, Monitoring and Evaluation specialist, Corporate donor representatives, Extractives industry representatives, Director of Social Cohesion Programs, HQ and regional Technical Support experts or consultants, Global Mining Minerals and Energy Partnership Manager, Finance and Operations teams, HQ Program Operations and Technical Support Unit

  • At least 5-7 years of proven experience managing market-based vocational training, non-formal education, youth employability, private sector strengthening, and/or entrepreneurship development projects
  • Relevant advanced degree or equivalent experience preferred
  • Experience working on youth-oriented workforce development and market systems development projects and relevant labor markets issues such as assessments and curricula development required
  • Experience in working with private sector in transitional environments
  • Experience in community engagement, governance, community mobilization or similar fields
  • Iraq or transitional environment/conflict/post-conflict experience preferred
  • Experience training, capacity building of partners and team members
  • Demonstrated attention to detail, ability to follow procedures, meet deadlines and work independently and cooperatively with team members required
  • Fluency in English required; fluency in Arabic a significant advantage
  • Highly developed computers skills with strong familiarity with Microsoft Word and Excel are mandatory
  • Candidate must be willing to travel and work in insecure areas within Iraq under austere living conditions

A successful candidate will have strong diplomacy skills in managing a team with different backgrounds, abilities, and technical knowledge, will have contextual knowledge of Iraq, and a developed technical understanding of private sector employment and labor markets. She/he will use effective communication and team-building techniques, have excellent organizational and strong interpersonal skills and display an even temperament and good sense of humor.

The position will be based Basra with frequent field travel to surrounding communities in the Majnoon region, as well as to Baghdad. Medical facilities are basic and more serious conditions may require evacuation. The position is unaccompanied and eligible for both a hardship allowance and R&R.

Mercy Corps Team members represent the agency both during and outside of work hours when deployed in a field posting or on a visit/TDY to a field posting. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and Mercy Corps’ policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.
Job Location: Basra, Iraq
Position Type: Full-Time/Regular
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