Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies has held a discussion on strategic priorities for youth empowerment and employment in Jordan, in cooperation with the Association of Vigilance Forum for Democratic Building and Expertise France within the “Increasing Economic Empowerment and Legal Awareness of Karak’s Youth” project. This discussion took place last Wednesday in Amman during a national forum, organized by the Center and under the patronage of H.E. Minister of Youth Mohammed Nabulsi, to present and discuss these priorities. Nadeem Abdel-Samad (Phenix Center) explained that these priorities were prepared by Jordanian younf people themselves to contribute to finding solutions to the challenges facing young people and to strengthen the government’s efforts within the framework of the National Youth Strategic Agenda in Jordan.
He noted that seven dialogue sessions were held at local level in Karak with young people aged 18-26, with the support of CSOs for youth and education. Secondary sessions had taken place in Ajloun, Mafraq, Zarqa, and Amman.
He noted that during those sessions, young men and women discussed the challenges they faced, their expectations, and their support needs in order to enter the Jordanian labor market. Phenix Center had, in turn, formulated and presented these recommendations in the form of strategic priorities.
Marie Keirle, the Component Leader of the EU-funded Support to Social Protection in Jordan Programme- Helping Deliver Social Inclusion through Enhancing the Contribution of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) project, pointed out that this project is part of their program with the Ministry of Social Development and funded by the European Union to support the social protection system in Jordan. She also noted that it enhanced the contribution of civil society institutions to the development of social protection through enhanced cooperation between the Ministry of Social Development, other governmental institutions and civil society.
During the first session of the forum, Phenix Center researcher Hadeel Al-Qudah presented the strategic priorities for youth empowerment in Jordan. She referred to available data stating that that there were insufficient decent jobs for young people: Approximately 100,000 young people entered the labor market annually, while the national economy did not provide more than 40,000 new jobs.
Al-Qudah indicated that education was costly and did not qualify young people for the labor market. In all governorates, young people felt that there were financial difficulties in attending private schools and universities, which led them to fall into debt or prevented them from completing their education. Additionally, the young people said that there is also a mismatch in the skills they acquire in schools, institutes, universities, and those needed by the labor market. She further noted that there were restrictions on freedom of expression in youth, as the voices of young people in all governorates were “unheard by decision makers”, youth policies were made “often without consultation”, and laws on youth “would be formulated without due consideration”. Al Qudah further cited many other challenges facing young people in Jordan, such as cultural barriers, difficulty in setting the career path, poor youth support infrastructure, etc.
The strategic priorities of youth include the improvement of working conditions for youth in Jordan, increased governmental regulation on businesses, and improved educational curricula to make them more aligned with labor market demands. Other strategic priorities included creating opportunities for youth to receive training that would enable them to gain experience within the labor market and providing them with guidance to choose an appropriate career path that would suit their interests, supporting youth entrepreneurship, and providing youth freedom to express themselves without restrictions.
The Assistant Secretary-General for Technical and Strategic Affairs at the Ministry of Youth, Dr. Yassin Al-Halil, said that most of the challenges raised by the priorities are reflective of reality, and that “the Ministry is fully aware of what the youth are facing” across the Kingdom.
At the second session, moderated by Bashar Awad (Phenix Center), Reem Aslan from the International Labour Organization said that “Jordan’s education outcomes are far from the demands of the labor market.” Aslan pointed out that “the skills required by employers do not exist” in young job seekers.
Jordanian Parliamentarian Dina Al-Bashir noted that most workers from various governorates in the Kingdom suffer from many challenges, such as sexual harassment, discrimination in salaries, and others, due to weak government control and the weak application of relevant laws and regulations. Al-Bashir called for the creation and enforcement of labor laws and regulations that would take into consideration the challenges faced by young men and women working in the private sector in particular, in order to achieve a decent and safe work environment.
Anas Bileh, a member of the Youth Empowerment Committee of the Royal Commission for the Modernization of the Political System, and Chairman of the Athar Youth Development Association stressed that the above priorities are in line with the needs and aspirations of youth as they are of youth.
Marah Mutwali, of the Future Pioneers for Empowering Communities (FPEC/Ruwwad), also presented the organization’s model of supporting and developing youth skills, noting its role in protecting young workers, and supporting education in countries in the region such as Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Palestine.