Building bridges: Jordanians and Syrian migrants research job opportunities online | Middle East/North Africa | DW | 16.01.2019
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Middle East/North Africa

Building bridges: Jordanians and Syrian migrants research job opportunities online

Job opportunities are rare in Jordan, and even more so for migrants. With a DW Akademie project, Jordanian and Syrians are learning to find information and job postings online.

Training DW Akademie in Jordanien zum Thema Arbeitssuche (DW/V. Kleber)

Haneen Hassouneh, head of a partner NGO that builds bridges between migrant communities

Sahab is a small industrial city southeast of Jordan's capital, Amman. Trucks regularly stop here to deliver or pick up goods. Some 170,000 people now live in the city, almost twice as many as five years ago. It has since become home to Syrians, Iraqis, Libyans and Yemenites who fled to Jordan prior to the upheavals.

Training DW Akademie in Jordanien zum Thema Arbeitssuche (DW/V. Kleber)

Downtown Sahab

But jobs here are scarce and 35 per cent of the population is unemployed. Wages in the quarries or factories that produce clothing for western brands were never high, but have dropped even further now that so many are looking for work. Academics hardly stand a chance.

A DW Akademie project is promoting online research techniques for Jordanian and Syrian job seekers. The aim is to train them to research online more accurately but also to learn more about each other.

The project got underway in 2017. DW Akademie initially developed teaching material and trained local teachers to become online trainers themselves.

They have since trained more than 200 job seekers. "Future Pioneers", a Jordanian NGO, chose participants from especially underdeveloped areas in northern Jordan as well as those from Sahab.

Tensions between Jordanians and Syrians

Sahab is not an easy city and is known for prostitution and drug trafficking. The mayor, Abbas Almaharmeh, knows that for youths, selling drugs is often a more lucrative business than a regular job.

Training DW Akademie in Jordanien zum Thema Arbeitssuche (DW/V. Kleber)

For city mayor Abbas Almaharmeh, joint projects for Jordanians and Syrians are a priority

With the city's rapid population growth, the mayor is also facing logistical challenges: the local hospital is overcrowded and the city's garbage collection can't keep pace.

But it wasn't always like this.

Some Jordanians have since become irritated by the migrants, blaming them for lower wages or expensive housing.

Almaharmeh, though, is trying to counter this with joint activities for Jordanians and Syrians. DW Akademie's project is one of them.

"Everyone who has come here has experienced trauma," the mayor explains. "We need to be open-minded and reduce people's prejudices so that tensions don’t increase." The key, he says, is for both sides to learn to work with, and not against, each other.

Half of participants invited for job interviews

Training DW Akademie in Jordanien zum Thema Arbeitssuche (DW/V. Kleber)

Former participant Batool Al Nadi is now teaching art at a Sahab school

Batool Al Nadi was lucky. She had spent seven months looking for work and now teaches art at a school in Sahab. She had previously taken part in a three-day DW Akademie workshop where she and other participants learned how to look for suitable jobs online. They looked at various digital platforms, at websites with job openings, and at websites offering relevant information. Local trainers also showed participants how to write CVs and prepare for job interviews.

"I found many more job postings online," says Batool. "My CV is now very professional and more companies responded than before."

A quarter of the participants officially evaluated the project and almost all said they had benefitted from the training, Among those, almost half had been invited for a job interview, with 38 per cent then offered a job.

Haneen Haissouneh, head of a partner NGO focusing on community building, is convinced that especially young participants have gained new perspectives. "When we give them the tools," she says, "they can get ahead of other applicants." Hassouneh says she is hoping to train more youths: Jordanians, Syrians and other migrants – together.

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