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The state of the labor market in Lebanon: Surplus in business and deficit in technical skills thus fueling unemployment


As Safir newspaper published a report today about the rampant unemployment amongst Lebanese graduates.  The report pointed out to the plight of young people who try to find decent employment which are commensurate with their studies.  The report also relays the views of employers concerning the imbalances in the Lebanese market which pushes young people to take any job, emigrate or remain indefinitely unemployed.
The report shares a number of stories of young people who have graduated from different specializations and who are trying to find jobs within these specializations and end up forcibly taking jobs as waiters or salespersons to secure their livelihoods.  Other young people resort to emigration to any country which will provide them with a job and a decent living.  On the other hand, employers find themselves in front of a golden opportunity with the influx of displaced people who take on jobs with low salaries.  A restaurant owner in Beirut, Tony Matar, says that whereas students start working in restaurants or cafes to earn a living while studying, they find themselves continuing to work there for many years for lack of other better opportunities.  George Saab, a show shop owner in Beirut notes that many young people with university degrees ask to have any job so that they are able to live even if these jobs are below their expectations.
According to the President of the General Confederation of Lebanese Workers (CGTL), Ghassan Ghosn, there is a glaring absence of coordination amongst relevant Ministries and universities. This situation is highly detrimental to the youth as only 1 of 5 young graduates is able to find a job.  He adds that most young people choose to study business, law and literature which are now in surplus as the job market of today needs more technical experts in applied mechanics, electricity and others.  Ghosn went on to day that after the civil war, the Lebanese economy was transformed which depends on “royalties” from real estate and financial markets and other similar sectors which do not sufficiently create jobs.  Meanwhile, productive sectors which could potentially create thousands of jobs were neglected.  Consequently, Ghosn highlighted the importance for the current and subsequent governments to adopt policies that would ensure reaching the equilibrium between supply (education) and demand (job market).
Finally, Ghosn noted the absence of a serious humanitarian policy to address the problems of displaced people from Syria, thus leaving Lebanese workers in the face of serious foreign competition as displaced workers often have the kind of technical specializations that are in demand in Lebanon and are likely to accept lower wages.
Source: Al-Safir 28 February 2014

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