With a third of its population of 11 million under the age of 30, youth unemployment averaging 36 percent in the past decade, and one of the world’s lowest female labor participation rates, Jordan faces considerable demographic challenges that is further complicated by the presence of nearly 4 million Syrian and Palestinian refugees and the lingering effects of the Covid pandemic on employment.
The ALCs will support Jordan’s Economic Modernization Vision, particularly its goals for job creation, reducing unemployment, increasing female economic participation, and strengthening the country’s international competitiveness. As language centers, training in (American) English will be the single most important offering of the four centers. The centers’ focus on expanding access to language training is important in a country that ranks 90 out of 111 in English language proficiency – in the bottom 25% globally – as EL proficiency is associated with opening the doors to educational and job opportunities, especially in sectors whose growth prospects are tied to the global economy.
Language instruction will be complemented by training that helps individuals overcome the skills mismatch that poses a barrier to employment for many youth and women in the country’s tight labor market. The centers will also expand educational opportunities for youth in these communities by expanding their access to scholarships for high school exchange opportunities in the United States and higher education for youth with high academic achievement and a strong desire to pursue their undergraduate studies in the United States.
The ALCs complement Amideast/Jordan’s growing training portfolio. In recent years, new partnerships have enabled us to advance career prospects for youth and women through employability skills training that opens the doors to decent work, has enabled women to transition back into the workforce following covid, are encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation among youth, and are transforming the potential of young learners through STEM programs. Other courses target professionals working in project management, data science specialists, and Jordanians employed in the aviation industry.
The ALC program is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs Office of Assistance Coordination (NEA/AC) in fulfillment of its commitment to youth economic development in Jordan. We are fortunate to partner with three community-based organizations based in locations where people don’t have access to the services that the ALCs will provide: New Approach for Training and Development (NATD), which is hosting the ALCs in Mafraq and Irbid; Al Qantara Center for Human Resources Development, which is hosting the ALC in Maan; and the Jordan Hashemite Fund for Human Development (JOHUD), which is hosting the ALC in East Amman.