Like many other young students of his age in Jordan, Yousef El Mughrabi, 23, was full of dreams and plans for his future. Living in Ma’an, a southern Jordanian governorate where one in four people live in poverty and one in five is unemployed, Yousef’s dream was a simple one: securing a respectable job that could open the door for a better tomorrow for himself and his family.
But unfortunately, also like many Jordanian youth, he was unemployed after graduating from university in 2010. Although he graduated with good grades, he was not equipped with the required skills for the job market.
He felt let down and battled with overwhelming feelings of frustration and depression.
“My certificate was not enough to allow me make it to the labour market,” he says. “People were telling me jokingly that graduates have three options after university: to exit Jordan by land, air or sea. But I do not want to leave.”
Determined to stay in Jordan with his family and to find a good job, he searched for job opportunities. When he learned of a UNDP-supported training programme for recent graduates seeking employment, he was the first to apply, and was accepted.
The training programme is designed primarily for unemployed young people between the ages of 18 and 26, with a special focus on university and community college graduates, high school graduates and people with disabilities. After participants take courses ranging from how to pass a job interview and build a professional CV to time management skills and problem solving and decision making, the programme places them in internship programmes in the private sector, making them significantly more employable.
The programme is part of a larger UNDP initiative launched in April 2012 dedicated to finding employment for young people living in Arab countries going through a transitional period, where high rates of youth unemployment are a serious and ongoing issue.
In Jordan, UNDP is working closely with the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation and the Higher Council for Youth in bringing the training programme to three underserved and poor governorates in Jordan: Ma’an, Mafraq in the north-east and Madaba in central Jordan. Financial support comes from the Government of Japan.
To date, it has provided training and internship opportunities to 75 interns, 25 coming from each governorate. Interns include high school and college graduates, as well as people with disabilities, and they are placed in both private and state companies. Another 65 interns are finishing up their training; so far, one third of interns have received permanent job offers.
Yousef excelled distinguished himself as an outstanding public relations intern for Tourism in Ma’an, where he now serves as the Deputy Director. “You could never imagine how much difference the training and internship made in my life,” Yousef says enthusiastically. “They finally unlocked the door to employment.”