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Advanced skill sets as important as degrees for youth employment, say experts

By Rayya Al Muheisen - Nov 16,2022 - Last updated at Nov 16,2022

Representative image (Photo courtesy of unsplash.com/Eric Prouzet)

 

AMMAN — In the ever-changing world of business, university graduates need more than just a degree to be enrolled in the labour market, according to experts. 

“Almost 70,000 university students graduate from Jordanian universities each year,” Muhannad Al Khateeb, Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research spokesperson, told The Jordan Times. 

Khateeb added that this number “far exceeds” the capacity of the local labour market. 

Economist Hussam Ayesh stated that the Jordanian market can only provide on average 30,000 jobs annually. 

“Every year an estimated 30,000 university graduates remain unemployed, while the rest look abroad for job opportunities or work in freelance jobs or family-owned businesses,” said Ayesh. 

Ayesh stated that the shortage of suitable jobs for graduates combined with frequent layoffs has led to a record unemployment rate of 22 per cent in the Kingdom.  

The private sector, on the other hand, provides employment to around 15,000 university graduates annually, economist Wajdi Makhamreh stated. 

“Boosting economic growth is key to overcoming this challenge,” Ayesh added. 

Ayesh stated that in order to create more job opportunities for youth, “we need to incentivise foreign investment and facilitate the private sector’s investment process”. Doing so should “reduce unemployment and lead to an annual economic growth rate that exceeds 6 per cent,” said Ayesh. 

Khateeb urged young Jordanians to think outside the box in order to overcome the unemployment challenge.

“University students should do their homework and develop their communication, media, linguistic and social skills to be more competitive in both local and international labour markets,” Khateeb added. 

Khateeb added that students should also consider modern, innovative and student-focused learning programmes, rather than ineffectual majors at universities. 

Khateeb stated that the Higher Education Council decreased the admission rate for less productive and over-subscribed majors by 50 per cent in all universities nationwide. However, such majors cannot be entirely removed from universities since every student is entitled to choosing the major they wish to pursue a career in, said Khateeb. 

“We want our university graduates to be equipped with skills that will distinguish them in the local, regional and international labour markets,” Khateeb added. 

Makhamreh stated that vocational training programmes, “if implemented properly”, will significantly reduce the unemployment rate among university graduates. 

“We need modern and student-focused vocational training programmes that could replace university degrees and give youth the opportunity to be enrolled in the labour market,” Makhamreh added.

Makhamreh stated that raising the minimum wage for skill-based jobs would make them more attractive options for undergraduates. 

Ayesh stated that vocational training programmes should adapt to the ever-changing business world by integrating technology in all the programmes they offer. 

“Over 2,000 university graduates joined Vocational Training Corporation (VTC) programmes during 2022,” Jameel Qadi, VTC spokesperson, told The Jordan Times. 

Qadi stated that the employment rate for VTC graduates stands at 70 per cent on average. However, the employment rate for some majors like hospitality and cosmetic technicians exceeds 90 per cent, said Qadi. 

“Empowering youth to be innovative and enrich their entrepreneurial skills is key to overcoming unemployment challenges,” Makhamreh added. 

Makhamreh stated that encouraging university graduates to establish their own businesses will contribute “significantly” towards reducing unemployment. 

“This starts from adding entrepreneurship and money management courses to school curricula and developing communication skills,” said Makhamreh. 

“It’s about time schools and universities adopted innovative and creative approaches instead of relying only on traditional methods”, Makhamreh added. 

Equipping youth with the right skills will help them get on the right track by giving them the opportunity to thrive, Makhamreh said. 

 

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