A challenging market becomes more challenging: Jordanian workers, migrant workers and refugees in the Jordanian labour market”

12.2017/ Suha Labadi, National Project Coordinator, ILO  Jordan   

The entry of Syrians into the Jordanian labour market has exacerbated an already challenging situation. In Jordan, three groups of workers currently exist and in significant numbers: Jordanians, migrant workers and Syrian refugees.

To address the existing challenges for the three groups, the ILO with financing from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), conducted a study, based on the interview of 1,000 key informants in five sectors: Agriculture, construction, domestic work, manufacturing and Tourism.

The study aims at providing solutions to boost Jordanian employment, to ensure decent working conditions for all including migrant workers, and to facilitate the entry of Syrian refugees into formal jobs, in line with Jordan's commitment under the Jordan Compact.


Three findings stand out

  1. No culture of shame - Far from having an immutable culture of shame, Jordanian workers articulate specific working conditions that impact their willingness and eagerness to work, whatever the sector or occupation. 
  2. Lack of decent work for migrants affects the prospects of Jordanian workers - The working conditions prevalent among migrant workers and Syrian refugees put Jordanian workers at a disadvantage vis-à-vis non-Jordanians. 
  3. The regulatory framework does not take into account private sector business models - Although the laws governing Jordan's immigration and work permit system are sensible, disconnects have emerged between the regulations surrounding the law on the one hand, and the needs of employers and workers for short-term and part-time employment arrangements on the other.

Four main categories of recommendations emerged including: 

  1. ensuring a clear and harmonized set of working conditions for all jobs by enhancing Ministry of Labour capacity to advocate and enforce good working conditions; addressing late payments and overtime wages; and raising employers' and workers' awareness on unintentional violations.
  2. developing programmes aimed at increasing employment of Jordanians by reforming vocational education and training; providing alternatives to traditional full-time employment and encouraging safe and convenient workplaces to support employment of women.
  3. modifying policies governing migration and work permits for refugees and migrant workers whether they currently reside in Jordan or outside the country.
  4. furthering policies to address the specific situation of refugees as distinct from migrant workers through simplification of the mechanism for self-employed Syrians to formalize their status; expansion of training, certification and job matching programmes to enhance skills of Syrians; and development of a mechanism to encourage work while providing social protection in case of job loss.

The Government of Jordan has an essential role to play in articulating the type of economy Jordan aspires to have, and in shaping a regulatory framework that allows the private sector to attract and retain the talents it needs. At the same time, the international community should continue to contribute support, because of the global good Jordan is providing by hosting refugees, and the need to foster growth and stability in the country.

 The complete study can be accessed at: http://www.ilo.org/beirut/publications/WCMS_556931/lang--en/index.htm