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Experts encourage graduates, job seekers to prioritise skill-building over book knowledge

By Sara J. Faqir - Sep 12,2023 - Last updated at Sep 12,2023

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AMMAN  — In today’s ever changing job market, the need for specific skills and the popularity of certain majors can vary significantly. To effectively navigate this evolving landscape, it is important for students and job seekers to stay well-informed about in-demand skills and saturated majors to make informed choices regarding their educational and career paths, experts say.

Workforce Planning Director at the Civil Service Bureau, Faten Mohammad told The Jordan Times that applicable skills are increasingly vital, sometimes even more so than formal education, as the job market prioritises skills over book knowledge due to training time constraints. 

Crucial skills include communication, digital proficiencies, emotional intelligence and analytical skills. Graduates should also possess the basic cognitive skills, life skills and specialisation-specific skills needed to meet job market demands.

Regarding saturated majors, Mohammad pointed out that in university settings, several majors are notably saturated, regardless of gender. These competitive fields include Accounting, Computer Science, Sport (Physical Education), Law, Engineering, Psychology and Counselling, Chemistry, Fine Arts, Special Education and Rehabilitation, Mathematics, Pharmacy, Biology, and Primary and Childhood Education.

The popularity of these majors often results in intense competition among graduates vying for positions in their respective fields, underscoring the importance of distinguishing oneself through specialisation or additional skills to secure desirable job opportunities, she added. 

Amjad Nammoura, head of Studies and Statistics at the Civil Service Bureau, underscored the issue, noting that selecting a specialisation presents a significant challenge to the labour market. 

“Many specialisations either do not align with the practical demands of jobs or produce graduates with theoretical knowledge but lacking essential job-specific skills. This disparity is particularly noticeable in engineering professions in Jordan, where there is an exceptionally high engineer-to-population ratio,” he said. 

The accumulation of graduates in oversaturated fields exacerbates economic challenges, especially high unemployment rates, which stand at around 22.8 per cent overall and approximately 50 per cent among youth, Nammoura said.

Among men, unemployment rates differ significantly based on education, at 24.6 per cent for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 78.2 per cent for those lacking one. For women, there’s a shortage of qualified workers with specialised skills across various economic sectors, highlighting the need for more focused training and educational programmes, he added. 

To solve this issue, Nammoura suggested that the government promote policies and incentives to support the private sector and create new projects, particularly in fields with oversaturated majors. 

Moreover, the admission policies for universities and community colleges should be regularly reviewed every three years to address oversaturation by increasing rates for stagnant majors, while removing barriers to technical and professional disciplines. Reducing education costs through public-private partnerships is also a vital step in this process, Mohammad said. 

Nour Al Maitah, recruitment and workforce planning engineer, told The Jordan Times that soft skills hold a constant importance alongside technical abilities, including interpersonal skills, effective communication skills, a positive attitude and the ability to swiftly embrace and adapt to technological advancements across various domains. 

Further, external factors can alter the course of the most in-demand skills in the labour market. “As technology advances, with increasing automation and the prevalence of artificial intelligence applications, the skills and qualifications in demand are shifting,” Maitah said.

Maitah advised job seekers in saturated majors to explore various fields, and enhance their skills by reading widely, obtaining professional certificates, attending workshops and conferences and building connections with recruiters on LinkedIn. It’s worth keeping in mind that individuals with multitasking abilities are consistently sought after in all types of organisations, she added. 

Vicken Shukrian, a renewable energy engineering graduate who currently works as a senior account manager, told The Jordan Times why he chose to pursue a field of study that was not related to his academic studies. “The job market for renewable energy engineering is saturated, making it difficult to find a position that aligns with your skillset,” he said.


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