Today, July 15th, is World Youth Skills Day! According to UNESCO, youth make up 18% of the total global population. However, they are disproportionately impacted by unemployment and vulnerable employment opportunities. This event aims to shed light on how to “operationalize lifelong learning”.
According to UNICEF, 63% of the Jordanian population is below the age of 30. In the capital, Amman, there are approximately 1.254 million individuals between the ages of 15-29, as of the end of 2018, including in urban, rural, and industrial gatherings. Official unemployment rates in the country are at 19% (Department of Statistics, March 2019), but unofficial unemployment rates for youth in particular in Jordan are as high as 45%. In light of this, it is essential to work to support youth aspirations, whether through education (formal, non-formal, and informal), hobbies, skills, employment, or more.
It is important to support youth in order to allow them to pursue their dreams. In our research, we look at youth and the ways they are voicing their needs through local initiatives, including venues which nurture their human capital (whether through education or vocational training or through their hobbies and skills). We celebrate World Youth Skills Day because it recognizes the need to support youth mobilization by refining their skills and seeking better opportunities in education and employment.
In our project, we research the journeys Jordanian, Syrian, and Palestinian youth take from education to employment. This is part of a joint research with colleagues at the Centre for Lebanese Studies at the Lebanese American University in Beirut and Oxford Brookes’ Centre for Development and Emergency Practice
Our research project aims to collect and formulate narratives of Jordanians, and Syrian and Palestinian refugees between the ages of 15-29. It will look at how different statuses (legal, social, cultural, political, economic) influence the ways young people negotiate restrictions and opportunities as they move from education to employment, and unpack how young people in the contexts of displacement mobilize, plan, and engage in initiatives that shape their trajectories. It aims to empower young people to develop their own voice for advocacy through action research, community training, and artistic exhibitions that investigate and express their own needs and aspirations regarding education and employment.
To pinpoint our research target group, our research started by mapping existing organizations, initiatives, and platforms by and for youth. We are currently in the process of starting our surveying research (quantitative research approach) covering nine liwa’a (districts) of the capital Amman in order to identify trends among youth in Amman regarding their education and employment trajectories. We are collecting basic data to understand the dynamics used by youth to attain education, and their desired level of higher education, while exploring their ability to accomplish their own aspirations afterwards. In the third phase of our research, we will interview young people (qualitative approach) in their spaces in order to unpack their life trajectories, aiming to analyze the challenges and opportunities they encountered in the most significant events in their lives so far.
In exploring youth trajectories from education to employment, we will analyse the role of three drivers: family, institutions, and young people themselves. Therefore, our research involves interviewing youths’ parents and main stakeholders and actors in order to understand the role they play in supporting or challenging the life trajectories of youth.
Given the growing vulnerabilities youth face with regards to education and employment, and in recognition of World Youth Skills Day, we hope that our research can advocate with and for youth of all statuses to better their transitions from education to employment.