ILO Fights youth unemployment in Jordan.
Tackling Jordan’s youth unemployment hands-on by ILO- Jordan
A few years ago, Ahmad Damiri had little hope for the future, as one of hundreds of thousands of young people struggling to find decent work in Jordan.
Today, the 20-year-old is employed as a mechanic and has high hopes, with plans to eventually open his own garage “and make a living out of it … a good standard of living.”
He has reason to be optimistic, having received thorough theoretical and practical training during an apprenticeship programme run by the ILO and the International Youth Foundation (IYF.)
The pilot project aims at helping tackle high youth unemployment in Jordan by providing young people with skills that are in demand on the labour market.
Despite efforts by the government, the unemployment rate reached 13 per cent in 2013, and young people, who make up the majority of the population, are particularly hard hit.
Official figures showing that 53 per cent of unemployed youth in the 20 to 24 age group held a high school certificate or higher education degree in 2012 raise the question as to whether the skills being taught are those employers are looking for.
‘’One of the main reasons for youth unemployment is a mismatch between the output of education and vocational training with market demands,” says Rana Turk, Jordan Country Director at IYF.
To meet these challenges, the ILO’s ‘’Tripartite Action for Youth Employment in Jordan’’ project partnered with the IYF to pilot test an apprenticeship programme in the auto repair sector. The programme was aimed at upgrading apprenticeships in a manner that would make them more beneficial to employers, enterprises and apprentices alike. Around the world, apprenticeship programmes have been seen to reduce the incidence and duration of unemployment while supporting economic growth.
“An effective solution to the mismatch between supply and demand is apprenticeship,” says Yasser Ali, who leads the ILO’s programme on youth employment in the country. Training takes places in the workplace, at a workshop or garage, and the apprentice gains skills through training and learning alongside an experienced craftsperson.’’
In mid-2013, the ILO began working with the IYF and 30 small and micro enterprises in Amman’s auto repair sector, which constitutes about 30 per cent of the informal sector in the country.
Fifty-three apprentices and craftspeople were chosen for the programme – many of whom lacked a formal education, like Damiri, who had dropped out of high school after failing his exams.
‘’Following the completion of the theoretical training, we began working at the garages,” says Damiri. “The ILO continued to monitor our work progress, and mentors were assigned to monitor our situation.”
Teaching the teacher
While monitoring and improving the skills and qualifications of apprentices was a core element of the ILO-IYF programme, coaching craftspeople was also a key priority to ensure all aspects of the apprenticeship system was up to standards, especially with regard to safety and health conditions in the workplace.
“Training is also given on work administration or management because some employers may lack adequate knowledge and experience in the field,’ said Yusef Rahal, one of the mentors assigned by the ILO.
Of the 53 apprentices who participated in the programme, 49 (89 per cent) became officially certified and are now formally employed in garages.
The ILO and the IYF will now look into the feasibility of replicating the project at a larger scale and in different sectors. “Imagine if this model was replicated on a national level,” says the ILO’s Ali. “It would be one way of resolving the problem of mismatch between supply and demand, which is one of the reasons for unemployment.’’