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Labour minister meets with journalists in open dialogue

By Maria Weldali - Jan 23,2020 - Last updated at Jan 23,2020

AMMAN — Minister of Labour Nidal Bataineh on Tuesday joined journalists in a dialogue titled "Labour policies, the unemployment crisis and employment in Jordan".

"Any decision the ministry takes is in line with its guidelines and principles, which are built upon seven pillars that fulfill its vision," the minister said at the meeting.

The media forum, launched by the Centre for Defending the Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) in cooperation with Zain, aims at periodically engaging decision makers in dialogues, debates and discussions with journalists and media representatives to ensure the open exchange of accurate information.

"We believe that this platform links policy-makers and media members in a way that ensures verifiable and transparent information, and brings to light unclear issues through direct dialogue," CDFJ CEO Nidal Mansour said during the interactive session.

Bataineh expressed his pride in Jordanian media, noting that the ministry's role is to develop policies and legislation that regulate the labour market in the Kingdom and help citizens find jobs, stressing that "the ministry's role is not job creation".

Closing the gap between the public and private sectors is among the ministry's goals, he said, stressing the need to encourage youth to work in the private sector by ensuring job security and insurance coverage for those employed and their families.

"We cannot ignore the fact that Jordanian citizens head towards government jobs and positions, even though the financial return is less, because it offers employment security, which has unfortunately switched to being a comfort zone due to weak regulation of government institutions' performance," the minister said.

He noted that there should be national goals that connect with institutions' objectives to create a comprehensive system, adding that performance should be measured by indicators. However, such monitoring "did not exist" and is still in the process of being updated.

Bataineh also called for empowering women, strengthening transport between residential areas and industrial zones and assessing the minimum wage, which has a direct impact on the Kingdom's investments, in addition to encouraging new investments.

Twenty-nine professions have been closed to expatriate labour to reduce unemployment, he said, adding that there are currently about 350,000 licensed expatriate workers.

"Jordanians walked away from certain professions, trades and crafts after depending on expatriate labour and now we want to reconnect them to these professions," the minister said.

He added that, in accordance with Royal directives, the ministry will increase its efforts to enhance the Vocational Training Corporation by equipping Jordanians with vital skills and experience, intensifying training programmes and ensuring the issuance of professional practice certifications, which will be mandatory in the future to verify candidates' intent to work.

The ministry prioritises collaboration with the Crown Prince Foundation to support pilot projects by working on feasibility studies, Bataineh said.

In order to ascertain their efficiency, the ministry's officers and inspectors will be subject to a system that ensures that only the highly qualified remain in the ministry, which will include using cameras to track officers' performance, Bataineh added.

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