Woman in headscarf looking into microscope at desk in classroom (© MCA-Morocco)
A U.S.-Morocco partnership provided schools with new equipment, such as microscopes, to help students prepare for jobs. (© MCA-Morocco)

After caring for her mother at home, Wafaa Mokhlis takes a one-hour bus ride to an internship in Casablanca, Morocco. She hopes it will lead to a career in civil engineering.

The 20-year-old sees herself someday in a hard hat, supervising crews on a construction site.

“Many young women like me, who were drawn to certain construction sectors such as painting and fitting-finishing, are more than ever determined to conquer other construction sectors, especially those considered too rough for women,” Mokhlis said.

Wafaa Mokhlis and young man sitting together in classroom (© MCA-Morocco)
Wafaa Mokhlis (left) is a student at a training center rehabilitated with Millennium Challenge Corporation funding. The training centers help young women like Wafaa build the professional skills needed to enter the competitive job market. (© MCA-Morocco)

Mokhlis is among students at the Specialized Institute of Building in Casablanca, one of 15 vocational training centers participating in programs financed, in part, by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. government agency dedicated to growing economies.

A $460 million agreement between Morocco and the MCC in 2015 aims to boost employment among youth and women through training.

Only 21% of Moroccan women are in the labor force, while youth unemployment is 32%, according to the MCC.

The 15 vocational training centers work with the private sector to identify necessary skills and then provide training to students that matches employers’ needs. One center focuses on training in bakery and pastry arts, while another focuses on tourism.

More than 1,900 Moroccans have found jobs through the program.

Group of people holding up certificates in celebratory poses (© MCA-Morocco)
Trainees in Morocco celebrate receiving their work readiness certificates, the final preparatory step before starting new jobs. (© MCA-Morocco)

When Aziza Ez Zouyny finished school, she had difficulty finding work near her home in central Morocco. She moved to Tangier in search of better prospects.

After a four-year search, she was still looking for work. Ez Zouyny began attending sessions at a vocational center, where she learned skills such as handling an interview, which helped her land a job in 2022.

“I learned how to define my goals, how to communicate in a positive way, and how to manage teamwork, a skill all young people should have,” she said.