Unemployment rises as migrant workers’ share in labor force climbs

(File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — Unemployment has been on the rise in the past few years, reaching 23.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021, while migrant workers’ contribution to the local workforce has also been climbing.اضافة اعلان

The rises peg questions about the status of new job opportunities and if Jordanians can actually fill them.

Musa Al-Shteiwi, head of the Economic and Social Council, said that nearly 40 to 45 percent of the Kingdom’s workforce is made up of non-Jordanians, with almost one million workers.

He pointed out that migrant workers can be divided into two categories; the first is workers coming from abroad by applying for work permits through the Ministry of Labor. The second, which is the largest and has been increasing in the past few years, are refugee workers who already reside in Jordan.

Shteiwi maintained that the government is obliged to create job opportunities for refugee workers in accordance with its international commitments.

He said the main challenge to Jordan’s unemployment and the driver behind joblessness rates is the high number of fresh college graduates who seek limited middle class professions, while skilled or semi-skilled labor are the ones with higher job opportunities.

“Between 50,000 to 60,000 job opportunities are created each year by the government, but most of them are considered lower class professions,” Shteiwi said.

Economist Zyan Al-Zawaneh told Jordan News that “there wasn’t any actual plan offered by successive governments to replace migrant workers with Jordanian workers and, with the current economic situation, there has to be one.”

Recently, the Ministry of Labor launched the National Employment Program, which aims at creating 60,000 jobs in cooperation with the private sector.

Zawaneh said that “there is a need to have a clearer focus on preparing the Jordanian labor for the job market.”

He cited the failure of successive governments in planning for the challenge. “Almost 15 years ago, we started teaching IT majors at Jordanian universities and the result was that we now have an oversupply of graduates in that field almost to the point of saturation.”

The result, Zawaneh said: “Today, Jordanians are more willing and are actually looking for lower class professions.”

He said that “the government needs to create an intermediate plan for three to five years to replace migrant workers by Jordanians in order to save the economy.”

Hamada Abu Nijmeh, head of Workers’ House, said that circumstances surrounding available job opportunities do not suit Jordanian workers. This includes the working hours, labor rights, the work environment and wages.

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