The Jordanian population is characterized by its relatively high youth population. In 2008, an estimated 37% of the population was under the age of 15 and 58% under the age of 25. The total number of young people ages 15-24 has grown more than 10-fold since 1950 and is projected to reach 1.4 million in 2020, the equivalent of 18.2 percent of Jordan’s total population. The Jordanian labor market features some distinguishing factors some of which include:
– Jordan imports hundreds of thousands of low educated, unskilled workers and yet has a large pool of unemployed with similar qualifications.
– The number of female students is close to or exceeds the number of males in almost all levels of education, and Jordan has one of the lowest female participation rates in the world.
– Jordan has enjoyed a high and consecutive GDP growth in the last five years but its unemployment rate hovers around 14% annually, despite the fact that the demand for labor has been dynamic with the pressure for workers moving from one sector to another and from one occupation to another year to year.
– This increase in the number of youth, referred to as the “youth bulge”, combined with fast growth in the overall population, has resulted in the most rapid growth in the number of young people in the country’s history. Today the largest five-year age cohort is the 10 to 14 age group. This bulge will reach working age over the next decade, leading to increasing demand for education, including soft skills and life skills as well as vocational training. This youth bulge is expected to be centered at age 18 by 2011, which will increase the pressure on university and college places, and on jobs and training facilities.
– The number of new university students and therefore job market entrants is expected to rise exponentially in the coming years. Close to 30 percent of 20 to 24 year olds (200,000) were enrolled in higher education in 2007; more than two-thirds of these attended public institutions. Enrollment in private universities has expanded from 7000 in 1992-93 to more than 57,000 students today.
– In Jordan an increasing number of fresh graduates cannot find employment. Moreover, the incidence of unemployment among university graduates is more frequent than lower level graduates. In 2008, unemployment among university graduates was 16 percent – significantly above the OECD average of 3.5 percent.
– The mining and quarrying as well as the manufacturing sectors have witnessed a decreased in the employment rates during the (2003-2008) period, whereas the services and trade sectors witnessed an increase during the same period.


– The ‘Culture of Shame’. In Jordan, the majority of university as well as fresh graduates and job seekers link work to prestige and social status. This is noticed particularly for young men who see their job title as a crucial step towards marriage. Although young women are generally more flexible in their approach to job selection, they are clearly restricted by family pressures to avoid certain types of jobs. Although the culture of shame is a prevalent feature of the Jordanian labor market, there is a general lack of initiatives to tackle this issue at the individual or wider societal levels.
– There is a lack of information on market needs. This is evident by the observation that most students chose their fields of specialization based on a combination of their Tawjihi grades and family pressures. In most cases, choices are based on perceptions of jobs that are prestigious and/or appropriate, especially for young women. As a result, graduates are concentrated in certain fields, such as IT, which are already highly saturated.
As youth comprises 70% of the Jordanian population, which represent a huge potential as well as a challenge as the unemployment rate among the youth reaches 31%. Such high unemployment rate might lead to increasing social problems as the Jordanian economy has not been able to succeed in creating enough jobs for the increasing youth population. The educational system in the country has also so far failed to provide the youth with the skills needed in the modern workplace.
Against these challenges, UNDP has contributed to restructuring of the Higher Council for Youth and the Jordan Sports and Youth Fund. It has also assisted in the formulation of the “National Youth Strategy and Action Plan” and in the development of the “Investment Strategy for the Jordan Sports and Youth Fund”.
Overall objective of the project is to improve institutional capabilities and capacities of the Higher Council for Youth (HCY) and Youth and Sports Fund (YSF) to better serve the needs of the youth. The project aims to institutionalize youth services as an integral component of the functions of Higher Council on Youth and Youth Centers for the purpose of helping youth to positively deal with the new challenges of globalization and development
• 2010, UNDP supported the Higher Council for Youth in formulating Jordan’s 2nd phase of a 5-year national strategy (2011-2015) with ten main theme areas through a participatory process with all relevant national partners. Among the themes addressed in the new phase of the strategy are: – Training programs for each geographic region on leadership – Awareness about Civil rights and citizenship among the youth – Awareness program to assist youth to participate at the local level (in decision making) and enhance their participation in local development – Connect the Higher Council for Youth website with government and universities websites. – Forming youth councils in the governorates
– Encouraging youth to join political parties

Key Expected Results

The following are the key results foreseen by the project:

– A national strategy for youth and action plan for HCY and YSF developed through a participatory process
– Institutional capabilities and capacities of the HCY and YSF improved to better serve the youth
– Youth centers are provided with a more focused and responsive structure with enhanced and proactive capabilities and programmes to be able to be attuned to present socio-economic demands of the youth
Youth services are institutionalized as an integral component of the tasks of HCY and YCs for the purpose of helping youth to positively deal with the new challenges of globalization and development
Key Players in the Youth Work field in Jordan:
Youth:Work Jordan who works with NGOs such as Jordan River Foundation and JOHUD.
Launched in 2009, Youth:Work Jordan is a collaborative, community-based initiative to promote marketable job skills, improve social services, and expand civic engagement opportunities among some of Jordan’s most underserved youth. With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, IYF and Jordan’s Ministry of Social Development are working together with local NGOs and youth to address the needs and aspirations of young people, ages 15 to 24. For the first two years, Youth:Work Jordan will work in 12 neighborhoods across 6 localities nationwide. This model will later be replicated in additional communities through the duration of the five-year, US$30 million program.


During Phase One (2009-2011):

– Nearly 3,500 young people will be trained in basic employment skills, with 2,000 youth obtaining a job within six months of training with almost 150 employers
– 900 youth will be trained in entrepreneurship, with 100 income-generating enterprises and businesses established within six months of training
– 3,000 youth will participate in youth-friendly service programs
– 3,800 will participate in civic engagement activities
– Almost 200 students will return to the educational system within six months of training

Other key players of course are the Higher Youth Council, the Ministry of Political Development through its EuroMed Unit and NGOs.
What Non-Formal Education in Jordan means at the moment; an overview of what Questscope does in Jordan:
The notion of non-formal Education in Jordan is different !! We still need to make the people aware of what is non-formal Education in the EuroMed spirit.
Questscope’s Non-Formal Education (NFE) programs offer an alternative path to an education, a job, and a future for those who have dropped out the formal education system.
Working in partnership with Jordan’s Ministry of Education and many community partners—Questscope has developed an alternative educational program in Jordan that 7,000 boys and girls have benefitted from. Questscope has trained hundreds of teacher-facilitators to lead Questscope NFE classes in 60 areas of Jordan, using highly effective participatory learning methods.
Boys and girls with some education, as well as those who cannot read and write, can now complete Jordan’s 10th-grade educational requirements in 24 months through this accelerated learning. Other parts of the program include mentoring for the youth involved, strong peer support, other developmental activities, and links to vocational options.
Students graduating from Questscope’s NFE program can now enter Jordan’s vocational training system, gain access to micro-enterprise loans to start a business, and can re-enter Jordan’s formal education system to access higher education.


– More than 7,000 youth have now benefited from this NFE program in Jordan.
– Evaluations show significant life-improvement for youth who participate: reduced anti-social behavior, improved academic performance, stronger social connections, and improved critical thinking.
– More than 400 teachers from Jordan’s formal education system have been trained in our NFE methods, bringing multiple benefits to the formal education system as well.
Youth Volunteerism and Civic Engagement
Yung Jordanians tend to avoid voluntary work because they are unaware of its important contribution to the Kingdom’s development. “Some parents refuse to let their daughters participate in voluntary work, because they don’t want them to work with the opposite sex,” Rami Takrouri, youth policy advisor at the International Youth Foundation (IYF).
In fact, the level of young people’s participation in civic activities is extremely low (less than 4% in communities which youth:work Jordan works with), further limiting opportunities for them to make positive change in their communities and in themselves. Furthermore, very few institutions offer volunteer opportunities for young people and most young people do not understand how being civically engaged benefits them directly or how such activities help secure a better future for their communities as a whole. Still, although a “culture of volunteerism” has not taken hold in these communities, youth expressed enthusiasm for and a willingness to volunteer if opportunities are provided. Increased opportunities will encourage the growth of a culture of volunteerism.

Testimony written by:

Mr. Iyad Aljaber
Projects Director
Institute for Leadership Excellence (ILE)
Ms Angie Haddad
Youth Unit Coordinator/ Volunteer
Institute for Leadership Excellence (ILE)

“Different is the a word to describe my country Jordan, while dealing with people every day I discover new things about them, a lot of them do not share the same religion or ethnicity and I can’t notice the difference in our life style, after spending a year with him as my classmate and riding the same bus home as neighbors, I discovered that Sadeer my friend is Christian also he came from Iraq to live in Jordan, I couldn’t tell until another guy asked in front of me.
Throughout history, Jordan was a place to gather all the religions on its land, mixed with people culture, traditions and moralities, what we see today in our daily lives is a result of all the civilizations that passed here.
We treat all people the equally without any discrimination, living in Jordan teach you how to accept others, how find something common, ether history, ideology, langue or the future.
If people would stop seeing the small differences and look how much we are similar to each other we won’t have this much wars, we are all humans living on the same earth, breathing the same air, under the same sky having this our present.” – Ala’ Zahrawi

“I never argue. In our society nothing should be discussed; give us only results. As a Jordanian, I feel that I bring more complexity and sophistication to the issues at hand, if I argue and discuss a lot about them, shifting my approach and becoming more results oriented is a game-changer, and doing this gives inner rewards, it gives me confidence.
What I recently realized is that being engaged in Volunteering activities makes me forget myself, lose track of time and stop worrying. It’s all about using my potential to serve rather than making conflicts. There’s tremendous potentiality in the Jordanian youth, if used with focus and positivity it could reap substantial improvements and reforms to the community. Our biggest challenge in this esteemed country, is that the youth are not doing whatever it takes to find their voices and speak-out-loud, there has to be more initiatives to support our society, to deliver quality reforms to build a stronger foundation, a platform that is rich with all the needed resources for everyone to exceed the limits and excel in the field of his dreams.
I’ve learned that great leaders are inspired and motivated by the successes of those around them, and it’s more productive to be driven than to be competitive. In Amman we have a high percentage of graduates who are able and willing to work but not enough resources which leads to unemployment, and everybody is competing with everybody. In such environments being driven to make yourself and others successful is often a much more productive strategy than being purely competitive.
Success depends on the intensity of purpose; let’s make the space for it and each step will take care of itself.” – Yazan Makdah