The Gaza Strip is home to more than 2 million people, 71% of whom are Palestine refugees, facing declining socioeconomic conditions due to 15 years of blockade, leading to 64% unemployment per UNRWA’s 2022 statistics. In light of these difficulties, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector provides a glimmer of hope for Palestine refugees in all of UNRWA's areas of operation, offering a borderless environment with limitless potential for growth. The Gaza Strip has a lot of untapped talent and potential waiting to be unleashed, and empowering IT graduates in Gaza to work in a borderless environment can greatly improve the dilapidating economic situation and provide a way for many young people to take their careers to the next level. The goal is not only to improve the situation in Gaza but to expand beyond its borders and create opportunities.
As part of its Digital Transformation Strategy (DTS), the UNRWA Information and Technology Department (IMTD) established the IT Service Centre (ITSC) in 2020, with the objective of empowering the digital generation of Palestine refugees. In line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, ITSC’s mission is to equip refugees with the skills and resources they need to succeed in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry and address unemployment among IT graduates. By fostering economic development and creating job opportunities, ITSC is helping to strengthen the resilience of the Palestine refugee community through digital innovation.
The UNRWA IT Service Centre (ITSC) is a dedicated service unit that offers a wide range of information technology services to UNRWA in all HQs/Fields and other UN Organizations through the United Nations International Computing Centre (UNICC), in alignment with the IMTD strategy. With a focus on smart, functional, and efficient technical support, ITSC is committed to delivering exceptional services to UNRWA. To stay ahead of the constantly evolving technology landscape, ITSC invests in the latest tools and techniques and boasts a team of experts with a wide range of skills and experience. From system administrators and network engineers to software developers and project managers, ITSC has the right talent for the job. Aspiring IT professionals can gain hands-on experience by joining ITSC’s passionate and enthusiastic team, working on exciting projects that help kickstart their careers.
Around one thousand contracts have already been signed, and more are being signed continuously, enhancing the livelihoods of young Palestine refugees and their families.
UNRWA ITSC, Gaza’s largest IT employer, is bridging the gap between education and employment by developing a Learning Management System and offering capacity building in advanced tech areas, as well as internships and career guidance.
40% of the ITSC personnel are women, and we aspire to increase the rate to 50%. We hold qualified women and men equally to the same standards when recruiting personnel.
The IT Service Centre (ITSC) provides employment opportunities for young professional Palestine refugees with various skill levels, such as IT technicians and support staff. The growth rate of ITSC hires increased 22 times between 2020 and 2022. These employment opportunities can lead to a stable income and improved standard of living.
UNRWA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United Nations International Computing Centre (UNICC) to enhance livelihood and human development opportunities for Palestine refugees. This partnership will create many employment opportunities in Gaza, giving individuals the opportunity to work on complex and large-scale projects for a number of organizations under the UN umbrella.
The UNRWA IT Service Centre is dedicated to fostering a dynamic and supportive community for Palestine refugees by providing a cutting-edge workplace and digital hub. Comprised of a diverse group of tech-savvy individuals, we are committed to creating an environment where individuals and companies can flourish. Our community offers a wealth of resources and opportunities for IT graduates to expand their knowledge and skills, including access to modern office spaces and workspaces. We are dedicated to creating a unique and unparalleled experience for all members of our community.
The IT Service Centre is committed to providing IT graduates in UNRWA regions with the necessary tools and resources to enhance their capabilities and guide them towards a successful career path. Through capacity building and career guidance, we aim to assist these individuals in developing their skills and making informed decisions about their professional future, taking into account their aptitudes, interests, and available job opportunities.
The UNRWA ITSC is a program that aims to foster sustainable livelihoods for young professional Palestine refugees. It does this by providing employment and internship opportunities that are designed to be sustainable and non-exploitative. The program promotes a set of values that focus on participation in decision-making, quality, and creativity in work, and positive relationships between individuals and their environment. This holistic approach is intended to create mutually beneficial outcomes for the IT graduates and the communities they serve. The goal of the UNRWA ITSC is to empower IT graduates to use their skills and knowledge to contribute to the development and growth of their communities.
UNRWA ITSC provides a large-scale of IT services, including:
“As a recent graduate, I was given the opportunity to hone my skills and gain valuable experience at the UNRWA IT Service Centre in partnership with the UNICC. Through working on high-impact projects such as the development of the UN Partner Portal Website, I was able to quickly develop my capabilities and make a meaningful impact in a short period of time. I am grateful for the support and resources provided by UNRWA and UNICC and highly recommend the UNRWA IT Service Centre as a premier destination for professional development and technical expertise.”
“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to gain valuable technical experience at UNICC. This experience was made possible through the partnership between the UNICC and the UNRWA IT Service Centre, which provided access to a wide range of free, certified training courses. The knowledgeable and professional team at UNICC allowed me to learn and grow on a daily basis, and I am confident that the skills and knowledge I have gained will be invaluable in my future career.”
“Through my tenure as a software developer at the IT Service Centre at UNRWA, I was able to hone my abilities and make a seamless transition into the highly specialized and in-demand field of Business Intelligence. This experience proved to be the foundational building block for my current work with UNICC. I am deeply appreciative of the opportunities provided by the IT Service Centre’s partnership with UNICC, which allowed me to expand my skill set by working on a diverse array of projects and gaining expertise in the support and development of data analytics platforms for various organizations, including UNDP, UNJSPF, and PAHO.”
“Coming from a Business Administration background, I made a career shift into the IT field a few years before joining UNRWA IT Service Centre. My outstanding performance at UNRWA helped make my transition to UNICC a seamless process; the opportunity to work with UNICC allowed me to gain valuable expertise in the field. The hands-on experience and knowledge gained at the IT Service Centre at UNRWA played a crucial role in my professional development and helped me excel in my new role.”
“I gained valuable expertise while working at the IT Service Centre at UNRWA in partnership with the UNICC. I had the opportunity to work on various global applications, including the World Health Organization’s mYoga app. This app is a free, secure platform that enables users to practice yoga. My experience with this project and at the IT Service Centre has been incredibly valuable, and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with such a dedicated team.”
“My journey with UNRWA started as a student at their schools and then at UNRWA’s Gaza Training College (GTC) where I got my diploma in software engineering. I then interned at the UNRWA IT Service Centre before securing my position there. As a developer, I was able to use my skills and expertise to contribute to UNRWA’s mission. Not only did I have the opportunity to work in a cooperative environment, but I also felt a sense of pride and fulfillment in being a part of an organization that is making such a positive impact on the lives of so many people. I am very thankful to UNRWA for accompanying me throughout my learning journey as well as supporting me in achieveing great milestones.”
“I was fortunate enough to study at an UNRWA school, continue my education at UNRWA Gaze Training College (GTC), and then intern at UNRWA IT Service Centre (ITSC), before ultimately securing a position at ITSC. I had the chance to learn from and collaborate with some of the most talented developers in the field. The knowledge and experience shared within the community helped me to develop a strong skill set and a better understanding of the industry. The community’s focus on teamwork and learning made it an incredibly supportive and inclusive environment. I am extremely grateful for UNRWA. Being a part of the ITSC team has really been a game-changer for my career.”
“I am incredibly grateful for my journey that started with UNRWA, where I attended UNRWA schools. The opportunity to begin my professional career at the UNRWA IT Service Centre (ITSC) has been invaluable. Building upon my programming and database management expertise from my studies at the UNRWA Gaza Training College (GTC), the training program at ITSC has further strengthened my skills. As an ASP.NET developer assistant at ITSC, I take great pride in being part of a dynamic environment that fuels my learning and skill development. The guidance and support from experienced professionals at ITSC have played a crucial role in shaping my growth as a software developer and laying a solid foundation for my ongoing success.”
“As a fresh Information Security Engineering graduate, I am grateful for the amazing opportunity that I have been given. It has always been my dream to work at UNRWA, and through hard work and determination, I landed an internship in Application Security with the Information Security team at the IT Service Centre. I am thankful for all the encouragement, support, and knowledge I got from my supervisors as well as the hands-on experience I would have never been able to acquire elsewhere. The ITSC solid internship program allows me to gain a position as DevSecOps Engineer with UNICC.”
“Thanks to the agreement between ITSC and UNICC, I gained valuable experience that allowed me to interact with various tools and scenarios, while also demonstrating my skills, dedication, and expertise. As a result of my accomplishments in DevSecOps Engineer position, I successfully qualified for and obtained an international position with UNICC. This new role presents an exciting opportunity for me to progress along the DevSecOps path, working in more complex environments and further expanding my experience and skills. I eagerly anticipate the journey ahead and am enthusiastic about exploring fresh avenues for my professional development.”
“Joining the UNRWA IT Service Centre in partnership with UNICC was a turning point in my career. I had the opportunity to work directly with high-level clients, ministers, presidents, and CEOs through successful international events such as FAO, AOSIS Pacific 2021, LDC, Cop26, OHCHR, and more. This opportunity provided me with unparalleled experience in the Conference Support field, far beyond my wildest expectations. Not only did I acquire valuable technical skills, but also a newfound confidence to tackle new challenges and make a significant impact on a global scale. I wholeheartedly endorse the UNRWA IT Service Centre as a means to further one’s professional development.”
UNRWA ITSC is an oasis of possibility in the Gaza Strip which continues to endure military assault and the poverty and isolation that results from a 17-year blockade of air, sea, and land. Ironically, one way around such a brutal blockade is through "the cloud" and UNRWA's ITSC offers just this -- training and employment for brilliant young Gazan coders in the remote, cloud-based, digital economy. I had the chance to visit the center in June of 2022 and found it a welcoming, modern, "hope lab" where young women and men put their programming, data analysis, and business processing skills to work and earn steady income while solving the IT-based needs of the center's clients.
During my recent visit to the IT Service Centre in Gaza, I was really impressed by the remarkable young men and women building careers in IT despite the catastrophic economic situation in Gaza. The Centre provides a unique platform for them to develop their skills whilst delivering world-class digital services to clients from around the world. Witnessing their passion and dedication was inspiring and a testament to the incredible potential that exists in Gaza. The IT Service Centre is playing a vital role in empowering young IT professionals and helping to build the digital economy in Gaza.
The UNRWA IT Service Centre has become the largest IT employer in Gaza, thus contributing to the livelihood opportunities in the Gaza Strip. The establishment of the Service Centre is also very much in line with the Agency’s strategic goal to modernize and digitally transform its services, business processes, and information management systems. It is very exciting to think of this IT centre as a small Silicon Valley in Gaza!
Gaza is full of skilled, educated, and passionate IT graduates. This IT Service Centre has created a huge opportunity to tap into the potential of youth in Gaza and strengthen their capabilities. By investing in the human capital of Palestine refugees, UNRWA actively contributes to the realization of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We need support from all our donors and the private sector to be part of this successful journey.
We are excited to partner with UNRWA since it has given us the opportunity to find very talented young individuals to join various teams across UNICC. These new colleagues are very ably supporting various teams across all of UNICC, and we in return have the privilege of seeing them thrive and grow into their roles. These Gazan colleagues get to work across the UN system through UNICC and we, as an organization, get to do our bit to directly contribute to the UN SDGs.
I was honored with my visit to the IT Service Centre at UNRWA HQ in Gaza, which developed rapidly from the rubble in May 2021 to an ambitious advanced centre full of Palestinian youth and providing distinguished services to many UN programs globally.