After several years of playing host to QIZ’s (qualified industrial zones) the government is finally catching up on a much needed dose of reality: the QIZs have created thousands of jobs that are virtually useless since a very low number of Jordanians are even employed.
So the government has decided to “Jordanise” the workforce by creating a ‘strategy’ that includes using the municipalities to employ Jordanians through a direct application process. If all goes according to plan, some 40,000 foreign workers will be replaced with Jordanians.
The traditional consensus has been that Jordanians don’t want to work certain jobs but I disagree with this. I believe the reality is that there are simply people out there in the third world that are prepared to do the same jobs for even less and factory owners know this. There are always jobs shunned by the local workforce but in this day and age that segment of people is very small, at least based on my own observation. People are prepared to work all jobs these days given the standards of living and inflation.
Moreover, according to a government survey, unemployment is down this year from 15.2% to 14.3%. These numbers have forever been questionable and some independent estimates have put it at 25-30%. While the government has raised the minimum wage from 85JDs to 110JDs, it comes merely to offset the rise in prices. In other words a 110JD salary today is more or less equal to 85JD salary of yesterday. So it hasn’t and won’t make much of an impact. One of the major problems with the unemployment numbers is what the government considers “employed”. Many are at the minimum wage and many are making less than that illegally. This is probably the biggest factor that plays into the expectation of higher numbers.
Hopefully Jordanising the workforce will work out even though I have my doubts given the fact that this hierarchal strategy the government is trying to set up seems inefficient at first glance and I expect to see a major breakdown in communication between municipalities and the Ministry of Labor.
On the other hand, if it does work out then at least the number of reports about foreign worker abuse will decrease. Will this be replaced with local worker abuse? But one step at a time I suppose.