Jordanian graduates take internships and learn ‘work ready’ skills
Rama Muslli participated in the Work Ready Skills course and was matched with an internship. Photo credits: Abo Bakr Al-Haj Ali
The global COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic impacts have caused chaos throughout global economies since the beginning of 2020, adding pressure to Jordan’s already stressed economy.
The pandemic has decimated a large number of companies throughout the country, resulting in more than 500,000 people being made unemployed. While many businesses face the risk of permanent closure or downsizing, the pandemic has also raised concerns that many fresh graduates will be turned down from the few available jobs. Jordan’s youth unemployment rate is already reaching 50%.
SPARK conducted 2 workshops with the University of Petra and the University of Jordan, which suggested there are gaps between the skills that the local private sector is searching for, and the skills being taught in universities. “Securing training opportunities is the most debated concern among us graduates, especially now with uncertainty about employment prospects during the pandemic,” says Abdullah Al-Daaor, a graduate student from the University of Jordan.
Over the last six months, alongside our key partners at the University of Jordan and the University of Petra, SPARK has been bringing together higher education institutes across the country, particularly those supporting large refugee populations. Representatives from several institutes, including Al Al- Bayt University, AlBalqa Applied University, Yarmouk University, JUST University and Zarqa University joined sessions to help upgrade their current curriculum to include more employability training and market-relevant skills.
As a result, a new online ‘Work Ready Skills’ curriculum has been introduced – as part of SPARK’s programme with the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development to make it easier for graduates to enter the labour market with relevant skills.
The curriculum is designed to assist graduates in developing their skills, such as interpersonal, communication and team-building skills, as well as cognitive skills like problem-solving and creative thinking. The course facilitates their transition into workplace job experience through subsided 3-6 month internship placements.
“There is a gap between what we study in the classroom and what is [needed] in the labour market. For instance, I studied computer science, but I have never had the opportunity to write an email or a cover letter. I believe what I learned during the Work Ready Skills course will remain with me forever,” says Mohamed Abbad, a graduate from Al Al- Bayt University.
Approximately 850 graduates applied to join the Work Ready Skills programme across Jordan, and this year we were able to train 210 graduates. A further 110 graduates attended soft skills courses, which boost jobseeker’s skills in critical thinking, creativity, communication, problem-solving and emotional intelligence. 75 were invited to participate in a subsided internship placement scheme.