photo Jordan minister

Working together for labour market innovation in Jordan

On 31 March 2022, the European Training Foundation (ETF) hosted a meeting in Jordan to present the results of two recent research initiatives in the country. The first aimed to measure the incidence of skills mismatches in ETF partner countries, while the second assessed innovation and effectiveness in labour market interventions.

To address skills mismatch, the ETF has developed a framework for calculating key skills mismatch indicators, with a focus on horizontal and vertical mismatch, relevant age groups and types of education. The research on labour market interventions looked at the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a view to identifying the main lessons and messages for the next generation of policies and measures aimed at human capital development, and improved labour market performance.

The meeting was opened by Jordan’s Minister of Labour, Nayef Zakariya Stetieh. Minister Stetieh talked about Jordan’s current reliance on foreign labour, and how it is incompatible with the country’s economic growth: at least 50% of jobs currently held by foreign nationals could be performed by Jordanians. But at present, Jordanians are refusing job offers in many sectors or do not possess skills in line with labour market demands. The solution is a renewed emphasis on vocational education and concerted efforts to improve its image. “People need to be proud of their profession, and to feel they have a dignified place in society,” said Stetieh.

Xavier Matheu, Director ad Interim of the ETF  referred to the ever-increasing role played by digitisation and the green transition in transforming the skills landscape worldwide. He further pointed that education and training curricula need to catch up with this advancement at a faster pace in order to ensure more balance between learning outputs alongside the evolving technical requirements of today’s job markets’.

ETF Senior Human Capital Development Expert, Cristina Mereuta, moved on to assessing effectiveness and innovation potential in the area of active labour market policies. This research took place in the context of the pandemic, which has led to far-reaching economic changes and demonstrated how income protection needs to be combined with reskilling. The crisis drove business online, and revealed potential shortcomings: countries were unaware which sectors most needed skills training, while public budgets were shown to be fragile and lacking in performance-based decision-making.

Dr Nooh Alshyab, National Expert at the Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini, took up the story by outlining key statistics from Jordan’s labour market. Since 2009, average GDP growth has declined to under 3%, down from 6.5% in the period up to 2009, while the activity rate reveals a significant gender imbalance: 54% of working age men are active on the labour market, compared to only 14% of women. No fewer than 75% of female graduates are unemployed. The country’s VET sector is fragmented, with many disparate branches and no unified umbrella.

The study’s conclusions are several. Jordan’s VET sector would benefit from stronger governance, and improved  visibility as to the way forward.  There is a mismatch between professional training and the needs of the labour market. To address these problems, the study makes three key recommendations. First, all programmes related to Jordan’s labour market policy should be brought together under a single umbrella. Second, all relevant national and international entities should coordinate via that umbrella, via a clear road map shared by all government departments and stakeholders, including business representatives. “The establishment of the Technical and Vocational Skills Development Commission is an important step towards ensuring a better coordination between all actors, it needs to be further empowered” said Mounir BAATI, ETF Senior Human Capital Development Expert. Third, investment in VET should be increased, to match the requirements of the market. “Jordan’s biggest challenge is unemployment,” said Alshyab. “This is a good opportunity to tackle it.”  

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