Since 1998 we have been supporting Jordan to develop education and training to boost employability, increase access to opportunity and promote social cohesion. Complementing the work of the EU’s External Action Service, we bring together ministries and social partners to develop scalable projects.
The current focus for government in Jordan is on aligning vocational education to labour market needs; an employment, technical and vocational education strategy has been running from 2014-2020. The EU supports this strategy through a programme focusing on skills and social inclusion. The ETF supports the European Union delegation in Amman, enhancing efficiency and effectiveness by monitoring the programme’s implementation. We are also delivering interim reports to both the EU Delegation and the Government of Jordan for monitoring purposes.
Political context and priorities
Jordan is a small country facing considerable internal and external challenges. Half of the population of just under 10 million, including refugees and migrant workers, is very young, with 55% between 0 -14 years old. Raising the employability of this young population, increasing female employment, boosting economic activity and improving the quality of education and training are key priorities. This is set against political unrest in neighbouring countries resulting in a high influx of refugees from other Arab countries such as Iraq, Syria and Libya. According to the 2015 census, 1,265,000 Syrian refugees, 130,000 Iraqis and 636,000 Egyptians are currently living in Jordan.
Small and medium-sized enterprises dominate the private sector, representing around 94% of all businesses and contributing to more than 60% of economic output. Doing business can be difficult for these activities: they have poor access to finance and rigid rules govern the labour market. Almost half of total employment is characterised by informality and women are disadvantaged. Jordan has some of the lowest female participation rates in the world, with merely 13.3% of women participating in the labour force, in comparison to 60% of men. Along with very low economic activity rates, Jordan has high levels of unemployment (15.8% in 2016) . Strategies to increase employment and social inclusion are at the top of the agenda for government policy.
Education and labour policies
A drive to improve skills is informing education policy, as international skills assessments show Jordan as ranking among those countries with a higher percentage of underperformers in reading, maths and science. Vocational education and training are currently not as attractive as academic education, which is by far the preferred route. This results in high unemployment among tertiary graduates. Transition from school to the labour market is difficult; while males mainly go on to employment and some to unemployment, for many women, particularly those with lower skills, the transition is to inactivity. One in three women between 15-24 is neither in employment nor education or training.
EU support and the ETF
The EU-Jordan Association Agreement came into force in May 2002. Advanced status was granted to Jordan in 2010 after the good implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan and reflects the new character of the partnership. The EU-Jordan Mobility Partnership was signed in October 2014. With an investment of around 600 million the EU is intervening in the development of education and the private sector between 2014-2020 and has allocated more than 750 million euro to assist Jordan in the Syrian refugee crisis.
As an Agency of the EU, we are working with the EU delegation in Amman to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the EU programme ‘Skills for Employment and Social Inclusion’ in the following areas:
- Carrying out a yearly pre-assessment of the disbursement indicators of the Budget support
- Supplying the outcomes of this assessment to the policy dialogue between the government of Jordan and the EU delegation
- Designing the two components of the programme
- Carrying out a mid-term evaluation of the programme
- Involving key national stakeholders in the work of the ETF