Gloomy Forecast for Yemen’s Unemployment Figures

An economic report published this week expected that the number of entrants to the labor market have doubled significantly over the next five years.  The economic report issued by the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation stated the number of  graduate entrants to the labor market will exceed 300,000 during 2015, which will increase the volume of unemployment in Yemen.

The total unemployment according to the census results of 2004 reached approximately 689,000, distributed according to the educational level estimated with 30.4% being illiterate and 24.7% being “those who can neither read nor write.”

“The period of 2004-2008 has witnessed a slight decline in the unemployment rate from 16.2% to 15%, which is still a high rate and indicates the inability of the national economy to generate enough jobs for the new entrants into the labor market,” the report stated.

An analysis of age statistics revealed the highest rate of unemployment is among the young age of (15-24 years), estimated at 52.9%, and the age of (25-59 years) arrived at 44.4%  of the unemployment rate.

The report said that the basic indicators of employment and unemployment during the last period shows the characteristics of the labor market, the imbalance between supply and demand in light of the limited sources of work, especially of those who are unskilled.

On the other hand, the inefficient role of the education sector, both public and private, has failed to reduce unemployment, in spite of the attention given to the education sector.

Education has proven itself unable to move forward to bridge the gap of the local labor market. In the meantime, the report noted that many of the graduates are with no work because they fail to keep up with the labor market’ needs.

The results showed that greatest difficulties which faced graduates in the private sector is the difficulty of dealing in foreign language, operating machinery and equipment, and the use of computers.

This inability varies among the graduates according to their educational level and the report noted that the percentage of theoretical graduates who have registered for the official jobs in the Civil Service are about 65%, which means the difficulty is in finding job opportunities for them outside the Civil Service.

While graduates of applied colleges are less than 10% and those of the technical institutes arrived at 25% among those working for the Civil Service. The report pointed out that graduates with vocational training or college education is estimated at only 28.1% of the total new entrants to the labor market.

While the remaining percentage represents non-educated or low-skilled workers, including those who drop out of schools whether in elementary and secondary education or those who do not have the chance to get appropriate education or training.

For that, the restructuring of institutions of technical and vocational education is required to fulfill the needs of the labor market.  A recent World Bank report confirmed that the challenges of the labor market in Yemen consist of the lack of credibility, the gap between supply and demand, and employers’ negligence of the quality and quantity of educational and professional institutions .

Professor of Economics at the University of Sana’a, Mohammed Ali Jubran confirmed that despite the Yemeni government’s efforts to eliminate the rise of economic problems, the results were not encouraging.

While unemployment in the country has reached a critical point somewhere between 29 and 34 percent, and estimated at 18 percent among young people.

Unemployment reached its highest level among women up to 39.5 percent, compared to men with 13.1 percent. Gibran has proposed a strategy to eliminate unemployment in Yemen by replacing the Asian labor in the Gulf with Yemenis, pointing out that these countries can accommodate a million Yemenis every year.

He has also suggested to establish a fund for unemployment and poverty in Yemen to unite the efforts of local, regional and international efforts. Also, it can accommodate three million workers in agricultural and grazing activity at a cost of three billion dollars, as well as to expand small industrial and commercial projects to accommodate a million workers at a cost of two billion dollars.