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Working towards employment

Sep 07,2017 - Last updated at Sep 07,2017

The minister of labour recently painted an unsettling picture of unemployment in the country, exacerbated by the huge number of foreign labourers.

The minister said the total work force in the Kingdom stands at about 2,600,000 people, of whom 1,200,000 are migrant workers, mostly from Egypt, Syria and Asian countries, like Philippines and Sri Lanka.

It is also reported that 30,000 foreign workers are employed in the construction sector and about 70,000 in agriculture. 

The rate of non-nationals represented in the total labour force is thus put at about 46 per cent. This is a huge number of foreign workers in the country’s labour market; the government expressed the intention to lower it to 25 per cent in the near future, so there is reason to believe that something is being done to reach this goal.

Experts in the field will no doubt come up with solutions, but suggested here is vocational training in relatively early school stages, helping established professionals acquire different sets of skills that ensure employment in sectors that need workers, removing the stigma attached to certain jobs and, more importantly, having the government invest in large-scale job-generating projects, preferably industry.

No country in the world, developed or developing, with the exception of some Gulf states, depends so heavily on foreign workers to contribute to its economy, so something needs to be done to change this disturbing and untenable situation.

There are definitely some areas in the labour market that could be easily filled by Jordanians, like the construction sector, tourism and even agriculture. It takes willingness to pay more to hire locals and for locals to accept that work, any kind of work, is more honourable than complaining or stretching the hand.

Jordan has become used to depending on foreign labour to support certain economy sectors, especially in the Jordan Valley, the prime area used for agriculture, but this heavy reliance on foreign workers needs to be gradually reversed.

The process will not be easy and will not happen overnight. Much will need to be done to educate the people and equip them with proper skills that can help them compete and excel.

The higher wages will translate in higher costs of production and eventually in higher prices, but if unemployment is reduced and economy thrives, that is a price the country can afford to pay.


The plight of foreign workers, especially those forced to flee their countries, is not forgotten, but things will not stay like this forever and when they go back to normal, Jordanians should be prepared and ready to work.

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