The Newly Graduated and Labor Market Needs
Every year, we notice an increase in the numbers of unemployed university graduates. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate was 17% in 2010 and was 21% in 2011. This issue of unemployment became a huge concern for the recent graduates themselves as well as a problem affecting families who spend money and years to see their children finish school and offer support under a difficult economical, social and political situation. This has had negative effects on the individual as it affects their psychological situation and also the community because it changes the graduate's role in the community.
According to research conducted by Dr. Imad Ishtayyeh, of Al-Quds Open University, there are many issues that restrict the employment of recent Palestinian graduates every year. One obstacle is the lack of balance in the number of graduates from each department. For example, there is a high number of graduates from the economic department and less who study architecture or education. Secondly, the most commonly vacant jobs aren't just looking for a graduate with a degree. Often, many jobs require that applicants have more skills and experience like communication skills, English language, interpersonal skills, leadership and IT.
A third issue is that most of the graduates hold degrees, but the degrees do not match the needs of the labor market. For example, recently graduated pharmacy students face major challenges when it comes to finding jobs. First, they often lack the financial resources to start their own pharmaceutical stores. And second, there isn't a need for hundreds of pharmacies in the cities - often, several large, dependable stores is all that is needed. Additionally, young professionals are often seen as a burden in the labor force. Companies either lack the financial resources to train a fleet of recent graduates, or they don't want to invest in young people when the other applicants have enough experience that wouldn't require any training. Another challenge the recently graduated face, is the lack of professional competency skills. They lack the basics like conducting a job search, interview skills, writing a reflective CV, work ethics and an understanding of the Palestinian labor laws.
Through TYO's Youth Service Learning (YSL) Program, we aim to recruit university graduates to be volunteers at TYO, to provide them with practical skills and to increase their capacity building with regard to life skills and English language skills. By investing in youth, TYO helps prepare the next generation of leaders in Palestine with the skills necessary to thrive and succeed in the workforce.
Ahmad is the Volunteer Coordinator.