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Jordan’s untapped potential: Transforming challenge into opportunity

Jul 10,2024 - Last updated at Jul 10,2024

Jordan stands at a crossroads. Blessed with a young, tech-savvy population and a thriving IT sector, the country possesses the ingredients for a sustainable and prosperous future. However, a high youth unemployment rate casts a shadow on this potential. The question here is how can Jordan leverage its strengths to empower its youth, transforming a challenge into an opportunity.

Jordan boasts an impressive foundation for an IT-driven future. With a literacy rate exceeding 98 per cent and near-universal internet access (97 per cent), the population is primed for technological advancement. The IT sector itself contributes a significant 13 per cent to Jordan's GDP, highlighting its potential as an economic engine. Jordan's leadership in Arabic internet content creation further demonstrates its existing expertise in the digital domain. Despite these advantages, Jordan faces a stark reality; a youth unemployment rate of 22 per cent. This disconnect between a highly educated populace and a lack of job opportunities necessitates immediate action.

Developed economies like Singapore and Japan prioritise education and invest heavily in cultivating a skilled workforce. Singapore's focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education has fuelled its IT sector's global dominance. Japan's emphasis on vocational training, meanwhile, ensures a steady stream of skilled professionals entering the workforce.

It is strategically wise to consider an intensive education and training programme in the IT sector. Such initiative would drive economic growth, elevate educational standards and reduce unemployment by equipping the workforce with essential skills for the IT sector.

Key objectives include economic diversification, educational excellence and increased employment opportunities. Expected outcomes are a highly skilled workforce, significant job creation, sustainable economic development and improved educational quality. This strategic investment promises to transform challenges into opportunities, positioning Jordan as a leader in the IT landscape.

Also, IT companies can invest in scholarship programmes that target promising students from underprivileged backgrounds. This ensures a diverse and talented pool entering the workforce. Additionally, establishing internship programmes allows companies to identify and mentor future employees, while providing students with invaluable real-world experience.

Partnerships with IT certification bodies like Microsoft, Cisco, or CompTIA can offer industry-recognised certifications within the educational curriculum. Earning these certifications can give Jordanian graduates a competitive edge in the global job market.

These intensive programmes should focus on high-demand, industry-specific skills. This could involve bootcamps in web development, data analysis, mobile app development or cybersecurity. The curriculum should be designed for rapid skill acquisition.

Jordan can create a future-proof workforce by prioritising these emerging technologies. AI expertise can empower young Jordanians to develop innovative solutions in healthcare, finance and transportation. Also, strong cybersecurity skills will safeguard Jordan's growing digital infrastructure, while cloud computing proficiency will enable businesses to operate with greater agility and scalability.

Establishing technology-focused incubators and accelerators that provide young entrepreneurs with co-working spaces, mentorship from experienced professionals, and access to seed funding. These programmes can nurture promising ideas and transform them into viable businesses.

By implementing these multifaceted strategies, Jordan can create a dynamic ecosystem that fosters continuous learning, industry collaboration and practical skill development. This will equip its young population with the tools they need to thrive in the ever-evolving IT landscape, solidifying Jordan's position as a leader in the regional technology sector.

Though fostering a culture of innovation and providing the necessary support systems, Jordan can empower its young people to become not just employees but also job creators. This entrepreneurial spirit will drive the development of homegrown Jordanian tech companies, and fostering economic growth for generations to come. Accordingly, Jordan can transform its youth unemployment challenge into a springboard for sustainable development.

Hamza Alakaleek is a corporate lawyer and tax attorney

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