Unemployment among recent graduates
According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) in 2013, 50.6% of Palestinian graduates aged 20-29 with a BA or intermediate diploma were unemployed in 2012, a rise from 46.5% in 2011. Unemployment amongst this group was 40.9% in the West Bank and 63.2% in the Gaza Strip. Unemployment among recent graduates in Palestine is due to social and economic reasons. Socially, unemployment among females is higher than males. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, general unemployment among males has reached 31% in 2013, while female unemployment rates have risen to 82.9%. This is due to the role society gives women in Palestine. Women in Palestine are expected to focus on being mothers and wives, and are rarely encouraged to build strong work skills to prepare them for future employment opportunities.
Moreover, due to this societal influence, women in Palestine lean towards working as teachers because the majority of schools in Palestine are gender specific schools, and they work only with other women. Similarly, women chose teaching positions so that they end work early - around 2 or 2:30pm - and can tend to chores in the home.
Among recent graduates, the vast majority of students in the Faculties of Art, Education, and Science are all encouraged to get jobs within the Ministry of Education. But unfortunately, there are not enough jobs within the Ministry of Education to employ all of the graduates from these departments, leaving university educated youth without work.
Many students at the University are encouraged by their parents to study certain subjects that are considered of a higher social class. These subjects include Medicine, Engineering and English Literature and Language. As a result, the high number of graduates from these fields don't match the needs of the market.
Another cause of the increasing unemployment rate in Palestine is work experience. Many available positions require a minimum of 2 years work experience. Many graduates have not had the chance to work to build up their work experience. This is because in Palestine, they focus on lecture-based experiences rather than focusing on practical experiences outside the university - like volunteerism, internships, working while earning one's degree, etc.
Tomorrow's Youth Organization strives to decrease this rising unemployment rate in Palestine by providing opportunities for young men and women to be involved in voluntary work. This voluntary work is aimed to develop their professional competency, build their communication skills, increase networking opportunities, and provide them experience in the work field. Thaiera Araesheh, a current volunteer at TYO, states that "being a psychology student, we discuss certain theories in class. However, at TYO, I am able to build my psychosocial skills we discuss in class, in order to use them in future career opportunities." Another current TYO volunteer, Mustafa Qut, adds that "being a volunteer at TYO has introduced me to possible employers and different NGOs, which will help me find a job after graduation."
However, with the deteriorating economic situation in Palestine, unemployment rates among graduates continue to rise. Consequently, young men and women emigrate to other countries in hopes of finding jobs. In 2010, emigration among Palestinians reached 7,000.
Therefore, increased involvement in the community through different institutions - like TYO - is a step forward for building professional competency and experience among recent graduates. This, in turn, might shift societal influence to better the Palestinian economy.
Ruba is the Volunteer Coordinator at TYO in Nablus. This blog was edited by Reema, a Fall 2013 TYO Zahi Khouri Fellow.