Restaurateurs say unable to meet labor minister

Minister of Labor Nayef Steitieh
An undated photo of Minister of Labor Nayef Steitieh. (File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — A project for establishing a hospitality academy is on hold because members of a restaurants’ syndicate have been unable to schedule an appointment with Minister of Labor Nayef Steitieh.اضافة اعلان

Omar Al-Awwad, head of the Jordanian Union of Restaurants and Confectionery Proprietors, said his office tried to no avail to meet with Steitieh to discuss the project, which envisions training young Jordanians to work in restaurants, hotels and sweets shops, under the union’s supervision.

“The union has an integrated project and a modern training program that will qualify hundreds of young people for the labor market and allow them to secure jobs immediately,” Awwad told Jordan News.

“We requested an appointment with the Minister of Labor since he took office and kept trying until this moment,” he said. “But we were not granted one on grounds that he is busy.”

Steitieh declined to answer repeated calls by Jordan News.

“Is it conceivable that the Minister of Labor has been busy for six months and is unable to schedule an appointment for one hour with the union?” Awwad asked.

“Why does the minister refuse to approve the project that will qualify hundreds of young people for the labor market, and we will work to secure job opportunities for them inside and outside the Kingdom?” he asked.

Awwad said the ministry’s approval of the project is imperative to obtain necessary licensing. He said the requested meeting “is very important because it will discuss ways of cooperation between the ministry and the union, and we hope to explain the details related to the project, and the training programs we plan.”

He voiced discontent with what appeared to him as the minister’s refusal to meet with union members. “This project will not cost the government anything, but it will allow young people, of all social segments and ages, an opportunity to work and make money.”

“We intend to train more than 50 young people every month once the academy is established, and we do not require that they have a university degree or even a high school certificate,” Awwad said. “What we care for is that they would be interested to work in the restaurant business.”

He explained that the academy will “help solve the problem of insufficient experience among the new hires, especially since some employers request that they have high experience and efficiency, which stand as an obstacle to employing them.”

Awwad speculated that the ministry could be opposed to establishing an academy, since there is already a cooking academy which offers vocational training.

But he noted that the programs offered by the cooking academy “do not rise to the level of work in big hotels and restaurants.”

Restaurant worker Ahmad Taleb, 24, said that “the academy will provide young workers with the opportunity to gain the necessary experience and skills and this will open the horizons for them to find the right job.”

He explained that he has been working in the restaurant sector for several years, but initially he was faced with some obstacles, primarily the lack of experience and skills.

 “I did not complete my studies in high school and started working for a restaurant sector. I was much younger at the time and I had to train extensively to find a job,” he told Jordan News.

“If this academy was there at the time, it would have saved me the hassle of looking for someone to train me”, he explained.

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