Qatar Career Development Center (QCDC) is spearheading the development of unique programmes aimed at integrating people with special needs in Qatar’s ‘social fabric’. QCDC has long placed emphasis on the development of counseling and career guidance policies, paying particular attention to capacity-building among students with special needs.
With the outbreak of COVID-19 – which disrupted industries around the globe – these programmes have gained momentum. The impact was even more pronounced in the education sector, prompting QCDC to spearhead the e-learning trend in Qatar – together with local stakeholders and partners – to equip local youth with the necessary skills to advance national priorities.
Mada Digital Inclusion
QCDC has partnered with Mada to develop and offer educational and professional development services, which will provide advice, career guidance and support the transition of students with functional limitations into advanced education, through the use of communication technology.
Established in 2010, Mada – Assistive Technology Center is a private institution for the public benefit, founded as an initiative that aims to promote digital inclusion and to help build a technology-based community that meets the needs of persons with functional limitations (PFL), persons with disabilities (PWD), and the elderly in Qatar. Mada today is the world’s Center of Excellence in terms of digital access in Arabic.
QCDC has received accreditation from Mada after making its digital platform accessible to residents around the country. Over several months, QCDC worked hard to meet all the global standards for digital access to web content (WCAG 2.1), and has joined a growing list of accredited platforms that promote digital inclusiveness, empower people with special needs and the elderly, and support their independence.
Career Readiness Program
QCDC has also assisted students with special needs in tapping employment opportunities while supporting stakeholders and partners in various industries to integrate people with special needs through their Career Readiness Program. The programme was launched in 2018 following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between QCDC and Awsaj Academy, both members of Qatar Foundation.
The programme aims to help children with learning difficulties, and raises awareness among employers on how to integrate people with special needs in the workplace. Through its range of diverse activities, the programme aims to educate the local community on the obstacles and challenges students face – and how to overcome these difficulties – while bolstering career guidance services by leveraging and adapting international models and best practices.
The four-dimensional programme helps the youth make informed decisions about their future careers, offering graduates the opportunity to develop their skills and reshape societal views on the learning process, in a bid to establish an effective national vocational system.
The multi-level weekly activities target students of Awsaj Academy and The Learning Center – also part of Qatar Foundation – through workshops, lectures by Qatari entrepreneurs, field trips to local organisations, volunteering initiatives, and social responsibility projects that highlight the ethical values of society.
QCDC and Awsaj Academy are currently working to officially integrate the Career Readiness Program Framework into the school curriculum to ensure that activities and projects undertaken by students count towards graduation criteria and micro-certification.
The Career Guidance Stakeholders Platform
In a bid to boost collaboration with various stakeholders, and in the context of its Career Guidance Stakeholders Platform, QCDC formed a working group tasked with the integration of the Career Readiness Program into the official Awsaj Social Communication Classroom curriculum, and another focus group tasked with assessing the challenges that people with disabilities face when transitioning from educational settings to the job market.
All Inclusive Employment
QCDC has also joined hands with key Qatari associations to expand its outreach and the scope of its work with students with learning challenges, through a tailored programme for inclusive employment of young high school graduates.
Thanks to a generous grant to develop interventions for people with disabilities, especially those in the autism spectrum, QCDC is seeking to guarantee the successful transition and integration of people with special needs in society.
The project consists of a self-sustaining Qatari-run programme, built on a Train-the-Trainer approach. The programme will target various groups, including youth, parents, and employers, through virtual meetings to assess career interests, student strengths and weaknesses and skills development training programmes.