His Majesty King Abdullah’s vision of “a better life for all Jordanians” is finally within the reach of hundreds of unemployed Jordanians. A new National Employment Center that matches job seekers with employers promises to lower the country’s unemployment rate, estimated at 14.5 percent, and boost the skilled labor supply. Since it opened in August 2004 the center has attracted more than 2,000 job seekers.
Funded by USAID with technical assistance from Nathan Associates through its Jordan Poverty Alleviation Project (JPAP), the center was launched by Jordan’s Minister of Labor, H.E. Amjad Majali, “to provide a labor exchange service between job seekers and employers in Jordan and the Gulf region.” The center aims to help employers hire the most qualified workers for the job, identify job seekers that are “job-ready” for the labor market, train those that are “not-job-ready,” and improve economic conditions in the community.
To introduce the center, the Marketing Department of the National Employment Center met with leading employers in Jordan and the Gulf region in mid-September. Marketing staff briefed them on the center’s services and described how the center could meet their recruitment needs. A meeting with the InterContinental Hotel¾one of the largest hotel chains in the region¾led to one job order and the potential for hundreds more. When InterContinental opens its new property in Aqaba in spring 2005 the National Employment Center will screen candidates for up to 700 positions the hotel expects to fill.
How the National Employment Center Works
The first public labor exchange to operate in the country, the National Employment Center serves job seekers and employers. It provides job seekers career counseling, job search, resume writing, and interview skills at no cost. And it helps employers with market research, job fairs, corporate career days, candidate screening and interviewing, marketing and recruiting, and lends its facilities for applicant testing.
The center has developed an efficient “service delivery path” for its job matching and career counseling services. A job seeker enters the center, completes an application, and meets with a career counselor who determines job readiness. After testing and screening, if the job seeker is deemed job ready, he or she proceeds to the Job Connection career counselor who searches the center’s database for an employer match. If a match is found the counselor informs the prospective employer. Employers entering the center meet with the Marketing Department, which determines their needs and completes and posts a job order. Working with the Job Connection counselor, the Marketing Department reviews job seekers’ resumes to identify appropriate candidates.
Seven principles guide the center’s service delivery: (1) customer focus, (2) customer responsibility, (3) informed customer choice, (4) no “dead ends’ in customer service, (5) limit “handing off” of customers, (6) minimum wait time and quick response, and (7) accurate information provided to customers the first time.
Center Upgrades its Database and Gets State-of the-art Recruitment System
The Center’s job exchange database¾indispensable to the Computer Lab and the Resource Center¾is working, thanks to JPAP consultants from the State of Utah. Recently, the Utah Department of Workforce Services presented Jordan’s Minister of Labor with an electronic recruitment system that can process 265 million job seekers.
Valued at $10 million, the system will upgrade employment-related information and build a database on the job market in Jordan and the Gulf region. Mr. Emad Mubaidin, Director of the National Employment Center, said recruitment services can now be offered faster and cheaper. H.E. Minister Amjad Majali expects the new system to improve operations and expand tasks, transforming the center into a National Employment Commission in 2005.
As the National Employment Center grows and strengthens its internal institutional base and ability to provide job seekers and employers outstanding service, privatization will be the next step. For now the center will continue to reach out to job seekers in Jordan and the region and develop partnerships with firms seeking to hire Jordanians.