AMMAN — Officials and employers on Monday discussed challenges facing jobless young Jordanians and means to address obstacles hindering their recruitment by local employers.

The discussions were held at the opening of a two-day conference organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in cooperation the ministries of labour and planning, and the Higher Council for Youth (HCY).

During the event, participants underlined the importance of raising awareness among stakeholders on the necessity of giving priority to the employment of young people over guest workers.

Labour ministry representative Mousa Khalaf, who delivered an address on behalf of the labour minister, said the impact of demographic changes, a mismatch between the outcomes of the higher education system and market needs, as well as the presence of guest workers, have contributed to the failure of addressing unemployment among the younger generation.

“There are different forms of unemployment,” Khalaf said. “Behavioural unemployment is quite a challenge, represented in the cultural attitude that makes some Jordanians shun working in certain sectors and hinders plans that aim to integrate young people into the labour market.”

He added that in every society, the young are key elements in the development process, thus it is important to engage them in employment strategies that meet their demands and aspirations for decent jobs.

During the event, the UNDP highlighted the success of its “Youth Employment Generation Programme in Arab Transition Countries-Jordan”, which is funded by the Japanese government.

Under the project, 140 job seekers in the Maan, Madaba and Mafraq governorates were trained and secured employment.

“Priority has to be given for the recruitment of young Jordanians who are the most active segment of society with the potential to increase productivity and affect positive change and progress within their local communities,” HCY representative Hussein Jbour said.

Highlighting the local economy’s failure to absorb the growing number of job seekers, especially fresh graduates, Jbour noted that the fear of not finding jobs makes students worry about their future even before they leave university.

“There are too many students enrolled in humanitarian specialities in contrast to a shortage in the number of those studying in technical faculties. Government strategies should revisit higher education policies in order to ensure that the outcome corresponds to the market needs in terms of available job vacancies,” he said.

The fact that jobless Jordanians have to compete with foreign workers whom local employers prefer to hire, also has to be taken into consideration, he added.

Takabnori Hattori, the Japanese government’s representative, said his country is committed to sustaining its assistance to the Kingdom’s development plans, commending the UNDP project for its success in training scores of unemployed young job seekers and securing them employment.