ILO/Jordan: RPL for refugees and host communities

Through the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme, both refugees and host communities are trained and certified, giving them access to formal work permits and making them able to enter the formal economy.

ILO/Jordan: RPL for refugees and host communities

Through the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme, both refugees and host communities are trained and certified, giving them access to formal work permits and making them able to enter the formal economy.

Contact details

Submitted by: 

  • Patrick Daru, Senior Skills and Employability Specialist, International Labour Organization 
  • Christine Hofmann, Skills and Employability Specialist, International Labour Organization 
  • Maha Kattaa, Resilience and Crisis Response Specialist, International Labour Organization 


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VIDEO: Skill certification programme improves opportunities of employment for Jordanian and Syrian workers.


Introduction to the project 


Arab States, Jordan


2016 - Ongoing and expanding


Through the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme, both refugees and the host community are trained and certified, giving them access to formal work permits and making them able to enter the formal economy.

Project aims 

Enhance refugee’s access to the formal labour market, by recognizing their often informally acquired competencies and skills.

Resources used 

The RPL scheme includes a four-day theoretical training course provided by a recognized local institution on four consecutive weekend days, in order to minimize participants’ opportunity costs of foregoing income. It covers trade-specific content, occupational safety and health and basic labour rights. In addition, four-day mentoring and coaching visits by a certified trainer provide the beneficiary with technical feedback on his\her work performance at the workplace. A subsequent practical test is organized in collaboration with CAQA on-the-job, which can be repeated in case of failure after an additional day of training. After passing a final examination, the beneficiary is entitled to a Formal Skills Certificate recognizing their prior and updated learning. For each beneficiary a technical profile is organised which includes contact details, certificates, tasks and duties, a competency checklist and the assessments. The certificate is granted by CAQA and provides access to a formal recognition, allowing for the legalization of the worker's status (ILO, 2018).

Main activities of the Good Practice

Since 2012, around 1.3M Syrian refugees entered Jordan. UNHCR currently registered around 654,000 as refugees. Many are without formal qualifications, forcing them into the informal economy.

By allowing refugees to obtain skills certificates and formal work permits, in addition to training on occupational safety and health, refugees and host community members are more likely to enhance their self-reliance and have access to formal and decent work.

Since 2016, Jordan began to facilitate Syrian refugees’ access to the labour market. This milestone was achieved through the signing of the Jordan Compact, which lifted some of the barriers to the legal and formal employment of refugees in the kingdom. This includes easing procedures, de-linking the work permit from employer sponsorship (kafala system) in both agriculture and construction and waving the fees to obtain work permits in selected sectors and allowing Syrians residing in the camps access to jobs in host communities. Access to skills and vocational training opportunities as well as job-matching services for both Jordanians and Syrians have also been enhanced. While progress has been made, challenges to secure tangible improvement to the lives of refugees through education and sustainable livelihood opportunities remain.


  • Ministry of Labour
  • Jordanian Centre for Accreditation and Quality Assurance (CAQA);
  • Vocational Training Corporation (VTC);
  • National Employment and Training Company (NET);
  • Jordan Construction Contractors Association (JCCA);
  • General Federation for Jordan Trade Unions (GFJTUs);
  • UNCHR;
  • United States Department of State.

Challenges and how they were overcome


  1. Reaching out to beneficiaries, especially refugees;
  2. No inclusion of women in construction since all occupations were barred for women;
  3. Weak accreditation and licensing system; and
  4. Lack of technical capacity on the implementation of an RPL scheme.

How they were overcome:

1) The outreach challenge was overcome through close collaboration with UNHCR, using the following strategies:

  • UNHCR sent an SMS to the registered refugees;
  • UNHCR established contact between the ILO and refugees (referral);
  • The ILO and UNHCR organised orientation sessions in different locations;
  • The ILO designed a Webpage for registration;

2) The weak accreditation and licensing system was tackled through providing intensive capacity building to the CAQA, including developing and piloting the assessment procedures jointly;

3) Training providers received training on RPL and other technical support including the development of training materials and assessment tools to respond to CAQA requirements for certification;

4) Advocacy to open construction sector occupations for women is leading to regulatory change.

Results of the Good Practice 

Through the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) over 11,911 Jordanian and Syrian construction and manufacturing workers were trained and certified, between 2016 and 2019, giving them access to formal work permits. Provided with formal qualifications refugees are better equipped to enter the formal economy.

Preferential trade access for firms that employ Syrians and a World Bank programme using disbursement-linked indicators incentivized the government to issue work permits for refugees in agriculture and construction outside of the ‘kafala’ system (where workers cannot leave a job without the employer’s permission).

Next steps 

Expand RPL to other sectors mainly manufacturing and agriculture and higher skill levels including technicians and professionals.

Provide support to implement the Jordanian NQF to be able to recognise prior experience of technicians and specialists.