Youth in Jordan to influence workforce solutions at Amman event

By Jillian Slutzker

August 9, 2016

More than 100 Jordanian and Syrian youth will have a chance to make valuable connections to service organizations and livelihoods opportunities at an upcoming networking event in Amman.

The “Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Day in At-Risk Communities in Jordan” event on Aug. 18 will bring together entrepreneurs, job-seekers—including youth with disabilities and Syria refugees—and members of the private sector, nongovernmental organizations and government.

“We [youth] must be involved….We must be engaged in designing the right programs for our own needs.”

18-year-old Jordanian youth

These youth-serving partners will present opportunities for youth to gain workforce skills and experience and discuss avenues for accessing grants, finance, business incubation and more for entrepreneurial ventures.

“In Jordan, there is an overwhelming mismatch between the skills that private sector employers seek and the training provided to young people” says Katy Vickland, Practice Area Director of Workforce Development and Youth Employment at Creative Associates International, which is sponsoring the event. “Yet, youth potential, once realized, offers enormous opportunities for economic prosperity and growth in the country.”

The idea for this event was conceived through a series of focus groups discussions with more than 500 youth across eight Jordanian governorates that revealed a lack of entrepreneurship and employment opportunities available to Jordan’s soaring youth population.

The event will be attended by representatives of key government agencies, civil society organizations and employers, including the Ministry of Social Development, the Jordan Hashemite Fund for Human Development, Jordan Education for Employment, Jordan River Foundation, Injaz, Souktel, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization and South-North Center for Dialogue and Development, among others.

Pressures of youth unemployment

Jordan faces an alarming youth employment crisis. Nearly 70 percent of the country’s population is under 30, according to the United Nations, and 22 percent of the population 15 to 24 years old. The World Bank reports youth unemployment is nearly 28 percent, and that figure is significantly higher among women.

Feeling the economic and social effects of these demographic pressures, young people are calling for more opportunities to earn an income—including vocational training, work-readiness skills, soft and technical skills development, internships, and entrepreneurship-friendly policies.

“There should be providers to help youth in job placement, work-readiness and soft skills,” said one 25-year-old man in Ma’an in a focus group session. “I stopped my studies in high school after being an A+ student, because my brothers graduated from universities and couldn’t find jobs.”

Hearing youth voices, creating joint solutions

Through facilitated dialogue sessions and presentations at the event, youth participants will have the platform to raise key economic concerns to policymakers and program designers—recognizing that to be sustainable and successful, programs and policies must be designed in partnership with those young people they seek to serve.

As one 18-year-old said in the previous focus group session, “We [youth] must be involved…. We receive supply-driven programs that do not meet our needs. This non-inclusive approach will never lead to sustainable programs for youth.  We must be engaged in designing the right programs for our own needs.”

Likewise, government, civil society and the private sector, including employers and training institutions, will present their offerings including funding, training and other livelihoods support services. Jointly, young people and these youth-serving partners will generate viable solutions to meet the employment and entrepreneurship needs of youth.

“We hope that this event offers youth a chance to connect with opportunities in the private sector and ensure their voice is heard in generating novel solutions to meet the challenges of today’s global markets” says Creative’s Vickland.

To learn more about the Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Day in At-Risk Communities in Jordan event or to RSVP, please contact Elizabeth Mullen at

To read more about what Jordan’s youth say are their greatest challenges, needs and hopes, please visit:

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