By: Asma Al-Mohattwari
Her father had refused to marry her off to an unemployed man. Because she was in love with this man, she committed herself to waiting – no matter how long it took – for him to secure a job.
Years ago, Lamia and Mohammed met each other at university. As both were intelligent and wished to be at the top of their class, Lamia and Mohammed competed with each other to get the highest grades.
Years passed; when the last year of their study arrived, Mohammed told Lamia he was in love with her. The two decided that following graduation, Mohammed would find a job and they would get married.
Following graduation, Mohammed was still searching for a job. As he did so, a number of potential grooms knocked on her door and she refused them all. Yet when Mohammed visited her father to secure his engagement to Lamia, he was immediately asked if he had a job.
To Mohammed’s “no,” Lamia’s father responded flatly, “I can’t marry my daughter off to an unemployed man.”
Lamia told Mohammed, “Just continue to search, and maybe we will find a government job.”
So it came as a shock when the Yemeni government stated that it was going to halt recruitment for government positions for no less than four years.
In the end, because Mohammed didn’t want Lamia to wait for him indefinitely, he decided to travel outside the country to find a job. For her part, Lamia has been left in the position of succumbing to her father’s desire to marry a suitable husband, whether she loves the man in question or not.
At a time when official statistics have shown that at least 200 thousand jobs must be created every year and unemployment among young people has reached 52%, the Yemeni government decided to stop halt recruitment.
It wasn’t just Lamia and Mohammed who were surprised by the news. If anything, young people across the country had been awaiting news that actions had been taken to curb unemployment.
University graduate Ali Ahmed said one of the main reasons took to the streets in Yemen’s most recent revolution was rampant unemployment.
“We participated in the revolution and received bullets in our chests to get rid of unemployment, but then our unjust government came up with this absurd decision. We will continue our revolution until we have done away with this unfair government,” said Ahmed.
Beyond the world of politics, Yemen’s educational field can also be cited as a contributing factor to alarming youth unemployment figures. In vain, many students say that their universities don’t provide them with curriculums which meet the needs of the labor market.
Hussein Yahiya, who graduated from Sana’a University’s Faculty of Commerce, said that because his hard-earned qualifications were far from suitable, he finally gave up looking for a job with a company. He’s since purchased a motorcycle, with which to earn money as a motorcycle taxi driver.
“A university education should inculcate useful abilities, including skills development, a work ethic, communication skills, language skills, leadership qualities, dynamism and a desire to continue one’s education,” he said.
Yahiya also directed blame at the government, asking, “How can you tell us to stop riding motorcycles when they represent our only source of income?”