Gov't seeks to employ 60,000 Jordanians this year

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AMMAN — The government, through the National Employment Program, seeks to encourage the private sector to provide more job opportunities to combat unemployment, a major challenge facing the national economy, especially after the pandemic's fallout, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.اضافة اعلان

Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh Sunday announced the employment strategies adopted by the government during a press conference, saying that the government has allocated JD80 million in the 2022 budget to implement the program, which aims to employ 60,000 Jordanians this year, at JD150 per month, for six months, as per the annual employment contracts signed with the private sector.

According to the program, the unemployment rate stood at 23.2 percent during the third quarter of 2021, a 1.6 percent drop over the second quarter of the same year and a 0.7 percent drop over with the third quarter of 2020.

Khasawneh had formed a team to work on the program; it was headed by the minister of labor, the secretaries general of the ministries of industry, planning, labor, agriculture and finance, and members of the Social Security Corporation and the Business Development Center.

The program identified other challenges in the labor market, such as the need for a comprehensive data system and the increasing number of unemployed people, which stands at 400,000 at a time when 350,000 authorized non-Jordanian workers are in the Kingdom, along with the rise of unauthorized non-Jordanian workers.

The National Employment Program established a public national employment workframe to face challenges through combining efforts and building partnerships with the National Employment Council. The workframe also envisages enhancing the work environment in the private sector and regulating the recruitment of non-Jordanian workers.

The program will be implemented to enhance training management, employing and determining the labor market needs.

The National Employment Council and sectorial skills councils will also be activated within the program.

The targeted age group, 18 to 40 year olds, will see equal percentages of males and females.

Meanwhile, Al-Mamlaka TV quoted Minister of Finance Mohamad Al-Ississ, who was speaking at the Jordan Strategy Forum, a leading think tank on economic development in Jordan, as saying that the economic growth rates of the country are “incapable of providing sufficient employment”; it called for the empowerment of the private sector, to enable it to increase employment rates, and for focusing on the industrial sector, which has the potential to reduce unemployment rates.

The forum noted that economic growth should not be the sole objective of governments, which should work to secure higher levels of employment and thus lower unemployment rates, an objective no less important than economic growth.

The high unemployment rate among youth 15 to 24 years is very frustrating, said the forum, adding that after a long time in school and university, and having high expectations for the future, young people find themselves facing considerable uncertainty when the time comes to enter the labor market.

Labor participation in Jordan is very low, compared to several other countries; total economic participation stood at around 33 percent in the second quarter of 2021, and female economic participation only at 13.9 percent, making it the lowest among most other countries, said the forum.

A policy paper issued by the forum on unemployment, titled “The unemployment challenge in Jordan: Between supply and demand”, analyzes the factors it sees responsible for the high unemployment rates in the Kingdom. 

The paper highlights the distribution of Jordanian workers by economic activity and employment growth ratios within these activities, and makes several more recommendations aimed at reducing unemployment among Jordanians.   

The paper also shows that unemployment is a chronic challenge to the Jordanian economy, a challenge that has increased excessively as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; the overall unemployment rate increased from 19.1 percent in the third quarter of 2019 to 23.9 percent in the third quarter of 2020, and decreased slightly, to 23.2 percent, in the third quarter of 2021.

These high rates exact a high economic, social and psychological cost on Jordanians, making it imperative on both government and private sector to come up with practical and effective solutions to reduce unemployment.

The forum paper shows that the number of migrant workers rose from 289,724 in 2006 to 348,736 by the end of 2019, which translates into 181.5 percent unemployed Jordanians, and that most migrant workers have a level of education that is lower than that of a secondary education certificate, so at least a certain number must be replaced with Jordanian workers, a step that would help reduce the overall unemployment rate.

The forum also recommended that minimum wage and a decent working environment should be secured for both Jordanians and guest workers so that that opportunity for exploitation of migrant workers is limited.

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