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Vocational training can remedy high unemployment, boost economic growth, says economist

By Rayya Al Muheisen - Jan 19,2022 - Last updated at Jan 19,2022

Vocational and technical training institutions will help boost economic growth and reduce youth unemployment, according to experts (File photo)

AMMAN — Vocational and technical training institutions will help boost economic growth and reduce youth unemployment, according to experts. 

“There’s a unique significance to vocational education,” economist Wajdi Makhamreh told The Jordan Times.

Makhamreh added that properly managed vocational education is vital for two major reasons. Firstly, it is regarded as a tool for promoting economic growth. Secondly, vocational education is one of the best remedies for increasing youth unemployment and helping to foster social inclusion.

During a follow-up meeting on the government’s employment plans on Tuesday, His Majesty King Abdullah called for developing vocational training and technical education, as well as equipping youth with skills that meet the labour market’s needs.

The King highlighted the need for a change in mind-sets to remove the stigma associated with vocational jobs, noting that enrollment in vocational and technical programmes remains below expectations.

“Vocational training institutions are urged to update curricula to suit the prevailing job market requirements,” Makhamreh noted. 

Vocational education is a tool for addressing economic, social, and unemployment issues in a developing country such as Jordan, according to Makhamreh.

“The goal of the vocational training programme is to equip youth in Jordan with professional skills needed to match the advanced requirements of the modern world,” Omar Qutaishat, acting head of  Vocational Training Corporation (VTC), told The Jordan Times.

There are currently over 36 vocational training institutions in all of Jordan’s govenorates, Qutaishat noted. Over 420,000 individuals have graduated from VTC training centres over the past years. 

“Around 32 per cent of overall graduates were females,” Qutaishat noted. 

According to the VTC’s acting head, new technical occupations were introduced at VTC training centres alongside 3D printing labs and hybrid and electric car maintenance majors. These were developed and implemented in cooperation with the Crown Prince Foundation and funded by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).

 “We are currently developing virtual reality training centres in cooperation with the Jordan Design and Development Bureau (JOBDD),” Qutaishat stated. 

Care giving training programmes for infants and elderly people were introduced at the VTC training centres in cooperation with the Canadian government, Qutaishat noted. 

“The outcomes of the offered programmes will provide solutions to many recurring issues related to labour skills,” Qutaishat concluded.

Jordan’s overall unemployment rate is around 23.4 per cent, while youth unemployment between the ages of 15 and 25 stands at a significantly higher rate of approximately 48.5 per cent, according to the Department of Statistics.

Makhamreh highlighted that rising unemployment, the continuous scarcity of skilled workers and job losses due to pandemic have prompted a situation to “rethink and recreate vocational education and training from a new angle”.

Agricultural sector representatives previously told The Jordan Times that many Jordanian youth are unwilling to occupy most of the “well-paid” jobs in the agricultural sector due to the “cultural stigma”. Therefore, according to the representatives, employers have no option but to employ foreign labor rather than hire unemployed Jordanian youth. 

Despite the high youth unemployment on the demand side, employers find it difficult to recruit skilled labour at many operational levels. The issue of the scarcity of skilled labour is a continuous pressing issue for Jordanian employers, Makhamreh added. 

“We have around 500,000 unemployed individuals in the Kingdom, most of them are holders of bachelor’s degrees, we need to raise awareness and change the mindset of youth,” Makhamreh noted.

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