Unemployment rampant among young engineers; field of study remains popular

(Photo: Unsplash)
(Photo: Unsplash)
AMMAN — Engineering is a popular choice of study and profession for many Jordanian students, who hope that the field would provide stable employment, however, in reality, many young engineers remain unemployed, a problem that has only grown since the pandemic began.اضافة اعلان

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an estimated 27.2 percent of young engineers in Jordan are unemployed.

In an interview with Jordan News, autotronics engineer and 2020 graduate from the Faculty of Engineering Technology (FET) Zaid Awni said that “engineering is considered a very precise major that requires internships and much skill for it to be executed in the work field. Companies, however, no longer provide this opportunity to fresh graduates and if they do so, it is not paid.”

The lack of support and incentive from such companies discourages engineers aiming to pursue a career in this field, according to Awni.

“As an unemployed mechanical engineer in the autotronics sector, I trained in maintenance centers for cars for a span of six months,” Awni added. “However, I was denied a job at any company due to the three to four required years of experience, which I haven’t acquired.”

“I sent my curriculum vitae (CV) to many companies with no outcome, so I took a route out of my field and worked a side job,” said Awni.

“Many engineering students are majoring in this field simply due to their GPA in the last year of high school, and not because they are qualified to pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering,” said ُelectrical power engineer and FET graduate Zaid Tawalbeh, yet to be employed, in remarks to Jordan News.

“I applied for the Jordanian Engineers Association (JEA) after graduating in 2020, and was not accepted. The COVID-19 pandemic also came along with my graduation, and it reduced any chances of me earning a job,” added Tawalbeh.

One engineer attributed the high rates of unemployment to a gap in demand. “Information Technology (IT) Engineers were in high demand during COVID-19, in contrast with other engineering majors,” said network engineer Abdullah Al Abassi, another graduate of FET, who is currently unemployed, in an interview with Jordan News.

“Many of my peers entered the network engineering major with no background in it, and graduated with very low GPAs and very slim knowledge, leading to higher rates of unemployment,” he said.

‘Poor educational output’
The factors contributing to unemployment in Jordan, for engineers and those in other professions, run deep.

“Reducing unemployment rates requires a joint national effort among all institutions, in addition to stimulating the investment environment to attract more investments that generate job opportunities,” said media spokesperson Mohammad Zyoud from the Ministry of Labor in an interview with Jordan News

The Ministry of Labor, through its role in regulating the market, restricts many professions only to Jordanians, and signs employment agreements for networking between jobseekers and employers in the private sector, according to Zyoud. 

“We are responsible for the existing unemployment. The labor-intensive productive sectors were weakened and moved towards expanding the unfair ‘free trade’ and ‘partnership’ agreements, which led to the expansion of the weak operation of commercial sectors,” stated Ahmad Awad from the Jordan Labor Watch in an interview with Jordan News

“This contributed to weakening the capabilities of the national economy to generate new job opportunities,” he added. 

According to Awad, unemployment rose when university education was expanded, while the needs of the labor market were moving towards technical, professional and intermediate jobs, and stagnant majors remained to be taught in universities. 

“Unemployment occurred when we accepted that the outputs of our educational system — at all levels — are poor, and its graduates are not qualified to enter the labor market, due to the lack of knowledge and skills to be acquired,” according to Awad. 

Awad also added that unemployment grew due to decades of policies that deteriorated working conditions, in particular wage levels, through the application of so-called “flexible” labor policies. These policies were based off of the assumption that weak working conditions contribute to encouraging domestic investment to expand and attract foreign investment, and that this investment will lead to more job opportunities, according to Awad.

Additionally, young men and women were pushed to run after various government jobs, under the belief that working conditions in the public sector were better than those in the private sector, and more protected and stable.

“We created unemployment when the Ministry of Labor began performing the tasks of human resources departments in business institutions and playing the role of mediator between the unemployed and business establishments that have vacancies, through the so-called exhibitions and employment campaigns, while time have proven that they neither advance nor delay in combating the problem of unemployment,” claimed Awad.

“It is not possible to confront the problem of unemployment in Jordan without a serious review and treatment of the public policies that have exacerbated the problem, which we have reviewed,” said Awad. “Otherwise we will continue to revolve around ourselves, and the trends of unemployment indicators will continue to increase.”

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