Your Excellencies, Ambassador Roshan, the faculty and students of ATVI, business owners and managers, and international colleagues. I am honored to be with you here today to launch the first ATVI Job Fair that will help lay the foundation for a vibrant Afghan workforce. I applaud your efforts and heartily congratulate the graduates. It is particularly n oteworthy that this building was built 40 years ago with my government’s help, so it’s good to see it is being put to good use again.
After only one year in operation, ATVI has graduated its first class of students – 450 graduates – skilled and ready for work. USAID is honored to help this innovative institution reach this goal. Job creation and employment opportunities are critical goals for any country. Afghanistan is not different, and this task rests on the capable shoulders of working business leaders like these people in front of us today.
The most important material for these jobs is skilled people, like those who are graduates from this institute. In the short term, ATVI will provide job skills for Afghans and in the long term will enable the people of Afghanistan to build a stronger economy.
I am very glad to see how many women are ATVI students, and I know the Minister is also. It is very encouraging to see so many of you to take this step and to enter the workforce. I challenge the businesses leaders in the audience to make a special effort to bring women into their firms.
I see three pieces to building Afghan capacity -
The first piece is institutions like ATVI who are part of a workforce infrastructure including public and private training centers, educational institutions, and businesses. It is through institutions like these that students learn the right skills and allows job growth to become sustainable.
The second piece is the students themselves. Graduation shows a commitment to participate in the economy and respond to opportunities. I believe you will be well served by investing in yourselves.
The third piece is the employers. Business and government need people with these skills. I understand that the Minister of Education has himself pledged to hire graduates from ATVI. I challenge both government and business leaders to look for their new recruits here. I think you will find just the people you need to get the job done.
I have invited our USAID contractors to be here today –Bearing Point, ARD, Louis Berger, DAI, Chemonics – and I am heartened to see a number of international construction contractors attending this job fair. It is critical that Afghan workforce increasingly be used to meet Afghan labor needs. So, I ask you to seek out the ATVI students and the Afghan firms, and to offer them jobs and opportunities.
We encourage U.S. firms to engage and utilize local subcontractors to the maximum extent possible. We encourage them to provide training through local associations and institutes such as ATVI. With this kind of support, business and professional skills building will fuel economic growth in Afghanistan.
I would like to pick up from Ambassador Roshan’s comments on public-private partnerships because it is very important to me, personally. I am a great supporter of USAID’s Global Development Alliance program because partnerships between business and government, as well as partnerships between national and international companies and foundations, can be an incredibly effective component of nation building.
And ATVI is a spectacular example of how such a partnership can work. Through the Ministry of Education, the Government provides administrative support and contributes security, land and infrastructure; a private international firm, ANHAM, contributes significant direct investment; and USAID provides support through a $3 million dollar scholarship program. The results of this partnership are right in front of our eyes: well trained students, eager to enter the workforce and committed to results.
Thank you very much for coming to today’s jobs fair, and for inviting me to participate. I hope you are as excited about the job prospects as I am.