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Jordan-based refugee training project and pioneering Indian education programme to benefit from investment

Press Release   •   Sep 06, 2016 13:50 GMT

Leader in skills development the City & Guilds Group has announced grants to two charities – The Near East Foundation UK and Manipal Foundation. Both charities work to improve education and employment opportunities amongst marginalised groups, including refugees and those living in poverty.

The Near East Foundation (NEF) UK will receive nearly £120,000 over two years to develop an employability and enterprise programme to support refugees and vulnerable people in Jordan. The Manipal Foundation will receive £98,000 over three years, to develop its pioneering Virtual Classroom project in rural India.

The grants are the latest from the City & Guilds Group’s £5m Skills Development Fund, which has so far invested in a variety of charities in Ghana, Ireland and the UK. The Fund, which launched in September last year, supports projects and communities to create long-term, sustainable change by improving skills across the world.

NEF UK aims to build more sustainable, prosperous and inclusive communities across the world. Currently Jordan has one of the largest refugee populations, with over 600,000 Syrians and 53,000 Iraqis. The funding from the City & Guilds Group will see NEF UK’s vocational training centres (also known as ‘Siraj’ centres) establishing a network of 24 ‘Master Trainers’ in Jordan. These ‘Master Trainers’ will then go on to train 6,000 vulnerable refugees and Jordanians, enabling them to progress into employment or to establish their own microenterprise.

Manipal Foundation’s Virtual Classroom initiative, which was piloted by seven schools last year, gives rural children access to teachers so they can pass the basic qualifications they need to secure a government job. The Virtual Classrooms use satellite technology which allows one teacher to reach up to 900 pupils at a time. 92% of those students who were part of the pilot project passed their exams.

Speaking about the investments, Dr Ann Limb CBE DL, Trustee of the City & Guilds Group and Chair of the Skills Development Fund Committee said:

‘The Skills Development Fund helps more people across the world to develop their skills and contribute to their local economies. We are thrilled to be supporting both of these worthwhile projects, which do so much to ensure that deprived or marginalised communities develop the skills they need to transform their future. Unless we prioritise training so that people can acquire the skills needed to enter the workforce, we will never truly tackle the barriers to skills development that persist around the world.’

Rabih Yazbeck, Programme Director for the Near East Foundation, UK said: ‘For vulnerable Jordanian, Syrian and Iraqi families, a pillar of NEF’s approach is to help them move from reliance on limited aid to self-sufficiency by connecting them with the tools they need to invest in productive activities and strengthen their economic resilience. NEF is grateful that the City & Guilds Group has decided to collaborate with us on this critical economic development work in Jordan. The contribution will allow us to continue to find innovative and impactful ways to help struggling refugee families and host community families find dignified ways to lift themselves out of dire circumstances.

Balachandran Warrier, CEO at Manipal Foundation said: ‘Education is so important for the well-being of individuals and communities. Our Virtual Classroom programme gives children in rural parts of India the opportunity to learn and develop. With the money that the City & Guilds Group is investing, we can continue to change people’s lives through education by reaching even more children.’

The projects that the City & Guilds Group invests in as part of the Fund must help people get into employment, or progress within employment. For the first year, the Fund has invested in projects around three key themes:

1.Supporting women and girls to develop their skills

2.Preventing offending and re-offending

3.Promoting positive skills labour mobility

For more information about the Fund, visit

Notes to editor

About the City & Guilds Group:

  • The City & Guilds Group is a leader in global skills development. Its purpose is to enable people and organisations to develop their skills for personal and economic growth.
  • Backed by a Royal Charter, the City & Guilds Group has over 135 years’ experience in making sure that people are prepared to contribute to successful businesses and thriving economies.
  • The City & Guilds Group partners with more than 200 companies to develop the skilled workforces that they need, and invests in learning technologies to help people learn whenever and wherever they can.
  • The City & Guilds Group is made up of City & Guilds, ILM, Kineo, The Oxford Group and Digitalme:
    • City & Guilds develops programmes of learning, learning technology, certification and assessment, to support colleges, training providers and governments.
    • ILM helps individuals, education providers and businesses improve the standards of leadership and management through qualifications and accredited training. ILM awards qualifications to over 95,000 managers across the world every year.
    • Kineo is a global workplace learning company. It offers a fresh approach to elearning management systems, apprenticeships and managed learning services.
    • The Oxford Group provides bespoke management training, leadership development and executive coaching to the world's leading companies.
    • DigitalMe designs credentials, using open badges, to recognise individuals’ skills and talent. It works with employers, training providers and over 2,000 schools across the UK.
  • Combined, the City & Guilds Group operates in over 100 countries, through 10,000 training centres, delivering qualifications in 26 different industries.
  • For more information about the City & Guilds Group visit:

About the Near East Foundation UK

  • The Near East Foundation UK (NEF UK) was established in 2012. It is an active member of the family of entities of the Near East Foundation, a U.S. based international development NGO that works to build inclusive, prosperous, and sustainable societies in the Middle East and Africa by providing vulnerable and disenfranchised people with skills, training, and resources to fully engage and prosper in their own communities and economies. Established in 1915, NEF has worked to empower citizens in struggling communities for over 100 years. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to find grassroots solutions to development challenges.
  • To learn more about NEF, please visit

About Manipal Foundation

  • The Manipal Foundation runs programmes in India across education, healthcare, vocational skills training and employability, women empowerment and the environment. It serves as the social arm of the for-profit Manipal Group. The City & Guilds Group currently has a joint venture with Manipal Education to up-skill 500m workers in India by 2022.
  • To learn more about Manipal Foundation, please visit

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