New ILO report reveals situation of Jordanians, migrant workers and Syrian refugees in Jordan’s labour market

Amman, Jordan (ILO News) - The ILO released an in-depth report in Amman on Monday (June 12), which lays out potential solutions to the diverse and complex challenges facing three competing groups in Jordan’s strained labour market: Jordanians, migrants and Syrian refugees.

The report, entitled A Challenging Market Becomes More Challenging: Jordanian Workers, Migrant Workers and Refugees in the Jordanian Labour Market , focuses on the policy goals of boosting employment amongst Jordanian nationals, ensuring decent working conditions for all, including migrant workers and incorporating Syrian refugees into the labour force.

The study found Jordanians are willing to work in any sector provided it is under decent working conditions. The study also found, however, that migrant workers and Syrian refugees often work under harsh conditions -- including late payment of wages, non-payment of overtime, and long working hours -- making it difficult for Jordanians to compete for jobs. There is a need to complement regulations aiming at limiting entry of migrants to certain sectors and occupations with a comprehensive initiative to improve working conditions in order to make jobs more attractive to Jordanians and other workers. 

“Based on sheer numbers, the three groups of workers have profound impacts on each other,” explained Hans van de Glind, ILO Senior Migration Specialist for Arab States. “This report aims to address some of the country’s complex labour market challenges as well as offer insight for other countries facing mixed migration challenges in their respective labour markets.”

It is estimated that around 1.4 million Jordanians are currently working in the country, with another 210,000 unemployed. Although precise numbers are not available, recent estimates suggest that there may be as many non-Jordanians working as there are Jordanians. Although comprising only a fifth of the total number of non-Jordanians workers, the presence of Syrians has introduced new challenges as well as new opportunities.

The report, which examines the sectors of agriculture, construction, domestic work, manufacturing and tourism, offers concrete recommendations in four general areas: ensuring a clear and harmonized set of working conditions for all jobs; developing programmes aimed at increasing employment of Jordanians; modifying policies governing migration and work permits; and furthering policies to address the specific situation of refugees as distinct from migrant workers -  as well as providing recommendations specific to the various sectors.

“The report offers important findings and recommendations for policy actors at a critical time, and is expected to be a source of reference for years to come,” said Pascal Raess, the Regional Advisor for Migration and Development of the Middle East at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), which funded the research . 

Its findings and recommendations are based on comprehensive primary data gathered from nearly 1,000 interviewees, including employers, Jordanian and non-Jordanian workers, government officials and other actors.

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