Jordan Reintroduces Mandatory Military Service As Unemployment Rises

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Jordan has reintroduced mandatory military service for young men in the hopes it will help battle the rising unemployment rate amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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“We cannot stand idle in the face of the increasing unemployment numbers we are seeing, which is a global phenomenon aggravated in light of the continuing coronavirus pandemic,” Prime Minister Omar Razzaz said on Wednesday.

Unemployed, single men aged 25 to 29 years will be required to report for conscription.The conscription will be divided into two parts.

The first three months will be a military training “that helps in consolidating the national identity of young people and enhances [their] discipline and commitment,” Razzaz added.

This will be followed by nine months in which conscripts gain “professional, technical and digital” skills, he added without details.

The conscription system will be overseen by both the armed forces and the Ministry of Labour.

Conscripts will be paid 100 dinars (140 dollars) per month.

At the end of their service, they will have a priority to get hired in government positions, Minister of Labour Nidal Bataineh said.

This is “not going to be the magic wand to solve unemployment… which needs economic growth and attracting investments,” Bataineh said.

Yet, he said, it is based on “the economic priorities” of the state after “in-depth studies” of the labour market and the needs of youths.

Around 5,000 men will be requested to start the service this year, and up to 15,000 next year, Bataineh added.

The compulsory conscription for young men replaces a voluntary programme which began few years ago, also to help decrease unemployment rates.

The voluntary programme will continue to receive applications from interested women.

Unemployment in Jordan increased to 23 per cent in the second quarter of 2020, compared to 19.2 percent in the same period last year.

Jordan imposed strict lockdown measures in mid-March to curb the spread of the virus, which continued for months, affecting many business sectors.

The economy – which will be hit by a massive decline in revenues from remittances and tourism – is expected to contract by 3.4 per cent this year, according to the Finance Ministry.

Jordan stopped obligatory conscription in 1994.

Since then, the government has introduced different schemes in cooperation with the armed forces to decrease unemployment figures and give young Jordanians different training in skills sought by the labour market.

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