25 September 2023

MIDDLE EAST: Youths look to Government for jobs

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A survey of young Arab people across the Middle East has found the majority believe it is the responsibility of their Governments to find them jobs.

This runs counter to efforts by those Governments to move away from a reliance on the public sector for employment.

The Arab Youth Survey, which questioned 3,300 young people across the region on a range of topics, revealed that 71 per cent of young people in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories think it is the Government’s role to create jobs.

Just over half — 56 per cent — said the rising cost of living was the biggest obstacle facing the Middle East.

In Jordan, where the Public Service, military, security and Government bodies employ 55 per cent of the workforce, such expectations are commonplace, but with the economy in trouble, the authorities are trying to cut back on hiring despite a record 18.6 per cent unemployment rate.

The country’s Civil Service Bureau, which handles applications for Government jobs, has an employment waiting list that for many positions now exceeds 10 years.

Suhair Showara (26) said she applied for a Government job along with her husband, just to see what would happen.

“It is like playing the lottery, we knew the Government is not hiring and we couldn’t afford to wait our entire life, so, we went to work elsewhere,” Ms Showara said.

The garment factory where she and her husband now work provides the couple with a higher salary than a Government position and they have both been promoted to the role of supervisor — an equivalent position they might have waited decades for in the Public Service.

Many say the monthly salary a Government job provides is not enough to live on in the face of rising living costs, yet the social support and stability that the Public Service offers the employee and their family are what lead many to still seek these positions.

Abu Hamzeh (32), who did not want to use his full name, works at the Amman Municipality, but has also taken on a second job as an Uber driver during the afternoons and evenings.

He says his municipality wage is JD400 (A$805) a month, but he can earn the same sum again in almost half the time in his second job.

Amman, 4 May 2019

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