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Job creation stagnates, youth bear burden, says ILO study

By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa - May 03,2023 - Last updated at May 03,2023

 

AMMAN — The Kingdom’s young population has been “disproportionately” impacted by the Jordanian economy’s failure to create job opportunities, according to a recent study by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The study, published on April 4, is titled “School-to-work transition of young women and men in Jordan”. It evaluates the employment situation of young people in Jordan between the ages of 15 and 29, while identifying challenges that hinder their access to the labour market. 

As of 2019, 22.2 per cent of all young people were in transition from school to work and only 17.8 per cent had found “stable or satisfactory jobs”, according to the report.

It noted that young men were more likely than young women to have completed their transition or to be working in “a temporary or unsatisfactory job”.

“This gender difference largely reflects current entrenched gender roles in Jordan, where men are seen as the main breadwinners and often accept any job…Women, on the other hand, are under less pressure to accept such jobs and can often afford to remain outside the labour force until a ‘suitable’ job becomes available,” it added.

 

The labour market 

 

“The Jordanian economy has generally failed to create sufficient jobs, particularly for the young population. Even during periods of high economic growth, unemployment has remained high,” the report stated, noting that “young women have been particularly disadvantaged”.

It cited 2021 figures which showed that the employment-to-population ratios for youth stood at 8.3 per cent for young women and 35.5 per cent for young men.

Additionally, the youth unemployment rate in 2021 stood at 36.8 per cent, including 45.8 per cent for young women and 34.5 per cent for young men, according to the report.

It also noted that 2021 figures classify 93.6 per cent of employed young people in Jordan as “employees”, which indicates that “there is little inclination among young people to engage in entrepreneurial activities”.

 

Education levels 

 

The report stated that “higher levels of education among young people were not necessarily associated with better employment outcomes”. 

It cited 2021 figures which show that 60.9 per cent of the employed young population in Jordan have attained “basic [or lower] levels of education”.

However, “young people with advanced educational levels exhibited the highest rates of unemployment, standing at 51 per cent in 2021”, it added, noting that the unemployment rate among women with advanced educational levels stood at 59.5 per cent in 2021, while that of their male counterparts stood at 43.9 per cent.

As of 2021, 62.9 per cent of the Kingdom’s young population had “basic education or less,” according to the report.

It showed that “young women were more likely than young men to have higher levels of education; 15.4 per cent of young women had an advanced education, compared with only 10.6 per cent of young men”. 

The report also pointed out that the results of 2021 labour force surveys showed that 32.8 per cent of youth between the ages of 15 and 24 were not in employment, education or training (NEET). Its findings revealed that these rates are higher among young women than young men, largely due to certain gender considerations.

“Gender entrenched roles, patriarchal norms and care responsibilities seem to hugely influence young women’s access to education, training and employment,” the report said.

It added that “92.7 per cent of married women aged 15-24 [or those in cohabiting/union relationships] were NEET, compared with 29.7 per cent of women with no partner [single, divorced or widowed]. In contrast, the marital status of men did not seem to affect their employment or education status”.

 

Employers’ perspective 

 

A 2022 employers’ survey targeting formal and informal enterprise showed that the majority of respondents faced difficulties recruiting suitable and qualified workers for their businesses, the report stated. 

The survey also revealed that work experience was cited as the most important attribute that employers look for, regardless of the job category, followed by “education for supervisory and managerial positions, and training for administrative, professional, manual and production positions”.

“In view of their limited job experience, this may put young people, especially fresh graduates and first-time jobseekers, at a great disadvantage,” the report said, noting that as of 2021, 52.4 per cent of unemployed young people were seeking their first job. 

It further stated that young people’s limited access to “decent” employment opportunities is overall driven by supply and demand deficiencies. This was evidenced in the survey’s results which showed that 82.8 per cent respondents didn’t have “any available vacancies at the time of the interview”. 

 

Recommendations 

 

“Irrespective of their age and sex, young people are very important assets for the present and the future. Ensuring young people’s access to adequate education and employment opportunities is critical as nations strive to develop and grow,” the report stated.

Its recommendations highlighted the importance of preparing a “comprehensive policy framework”, investing in promoting employment in promising sectors that are capable of creating “decent and productive jobs for educated youth” in addition to designing and implementing labour market policies that support disadvantaged groups.

It also recommended improving the “collection and dissemination of labour market-related data and statistics” and promoting better education and training policies, such as updating and reforming the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) system in Jordan to ensure that it aligns with the needs of the labour market.

“Increased focus on transferable and life skills, English language, vocational education and digital skills is the key to easing young people’s transition from school to work. Increased awareness of lifelong learning, upskilling and reskilling is also important in view of the rapidly changing world of work,” it added. 

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