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Washington, DC
Middle East and North Africa | Jordan
2014-02-18T17:47:32Z | 2014-02-18T17:47:32Z | 2012-12

Unemployment among young adults is a problem throughout the world, and it's of particular concern in the Middle East, where half the population is under the age of 25 and more than a quarter of those aged 15-24 are out of work. Young women fare worse than men when it comes to finding jobs. Cultural norms can discourage them from working or traveling on their own, meaning that some young women never even make the transition into the workforce. How to reduce youth unemployment in general and give women a boost in particular is of key concern to policymakers and development groups trying to make a difference. But it's not yet clear what steps can reverse the problem. The World Bank understands that skills development and jobs creation is necessary to improving people's lives and helping countries meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. In order to build evidence of what works, the World Bank funded the Jordan New Work Opportunities for Women (NOW) pilot program, which was designed to encourage employment of female college graduates in Jordan through wage subsidy vouchers and soft skills training. Built into the project was an evaluation to measure the impact. Researchers found that vouchers did boost employment but only for as long as the vouchers were valid. After that, the new hires were let go or left their jobs. The high labor force participation rate is reflected in the baseline survey, when more than 90 percent of the young women said they wanted to look for work after graduation and more than 80 percent preferred the public sector. They also had a very positive outlook, with 82 percent saying they expected to have a job within 6 months (the reality is that 40 percent of community college graduates find at least one job within the first year and a half after entering the labor market).


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