Jordan – Supporting Youth Employment

17 Mar 2014

imageYahia Yousef al-Deques at a vocational training programme supported by UNDP. Photo: Salah Malkawi/UNDP

Yahia Yousef al-Deques looks to the future with confidence. At eighteen years old, he has just completed a month of on-the-job training with electronics company LG. Yahia graduated last December from a vocational training programme established through a UNDP youth empowerment project in partnership with Jordan Career Education Foundation (JCEF). He and other graduates of the programme were then offered placements with large manufacturers such as LG and Petra.

“I benefited from the programme,” says Yahia. “I learned lots of things. It has really helped me. Now I am a qualified technician in heating, ventilation and air conditioning. I am happy.”

Yahia was not always so optimistic, however. Coming from a large family with 5 brothers and sisters, he left school aged sixteen to find work. Unemployment is a major challenge in Jordan, particularly for young people. Overall, the unemployment rate is around 13 percent, with more than 65 percent of those without jobs under the age of forty.

The problem of youth unemployment is hugely exacerbated by the ongoing influx of refugees from Syria. Numbering nearly 600,000 in Jordan alone, most settle in the countries poorest areas, such as the Balqa region, where Yahia and his family are from.

After working intermittently in supermarkets and then as an electrician, Yahia came across an advertisement for the UNDP supported vocational training scheme. He successfully completed two interviews, and began the training with engineers from the Asala Foundation, under JCEF’s supervision. In addition to technical education, participants undertake supplementary courses on topics such as succeeding at work, building self-confidence and effective time-management.

UNDP Jordan Country Director Zena Ali Ahmad says the strength of programmes such as this lies in the combination of vocational and life-skills coaching. This dual approach, which she calls “closing the circle”, means that young Jordanians are offered continuing support through the scheme and as they look for jobs. Within UNDP’s overarching strategy that pulls together a range of actions aimed at tackling unemployment in Jordan, the private sector plays a key role in supporting youth from disadvantaged groups into jobs. “Once they graduate, they will be able to find employment,” she adds. “We are not only training young Jordanians, we are securing job placements, since training is demand-driven.”

Despite the difficult situation in already-vulnerable communities bordering Syria, UNDP’s work in countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq is providing lasting opportunities for young people affected by the spillover of the conflict.

Yahia is now putting his new skills to good use - and is hoping that his training at LG can lead to a promising technical career.