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World Bank approves $200m project to improve digital services, access to jobs for youth in Jordan


The Jordan Times


AMMAN — The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors approved on Friday a $200 million project to increase access to employment for Jordanian youth and expand digital government services, according to a statement published on the bank’s website.
TheYouth, Technology and Jobs project will adopt an integrated approach that aims to capitalise on Jordan’s potential to grow its digital economy and absorb skilled labour to address two main challenges facing the country: Economic growth and job creation, the statement said.
The project will provide professional skills programmes to 30,000 youth, a technology curriculum for public school grades seven to 12 and workspaces in underserved communities. The project will also support access to markets for entrepreneurs and incentivise businesses to expand their operations in underserved communities. It will improve access for youth to freelancing platforms and enhance government digital services and digital payment, according to the statement.
The project aims to generate 10,000 new income opportunities for youth in the coming five years, including women (30 per cent) and Syrian refugees in freelance opportunities (15 per cent). It aims to digitise more than 80 per cent of government payments and mobilise around $20 million in new private sector investments in digital services, noted the statement.
Information technology activities achieved a growth of 11.64 per cent between 2014 and 2018 in Jordan, where annual revenues increased by about $300 million. Mobile and Internet penetration rates reached 85 per cent and 88.8 per cent, respectively, in 2018.
“The Jordanian digital sector shows promising growth potential,”Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship Mothanna Gharaibeh was quoted in the statement as saying.
“Jordan has embarked on a journey to position itself as a technology hub serving the globe. Key technology leaders from the US, Europe and Asia have selected Jordan for their technical service centres.
“It is imperative for the government, the private sector, academia and civil society to join efforts in promoting the development of technology talents and fostering the conditions for the expansion of the digital economy and digital government services. Investing in human capital will guarantee the most economic and social return for the Kingdom,” the minister said.
The Youth, Technology and Jobs project contributes to the Skilling-Up Mashreq initiative launched by the World Bank in November 2018 to train at least 500,000 students, graduates and workers in digital skills in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, as these countries pledged to overhaul regulations to rejuvenate their digital economies.
The project is also aligned with Jordan’s National Employment TVET strategy, and Jordan’s National Strategy for Human Resource Development 2016–2025, the statement said.
“This project’s design integrates some of the latest international lessons and innovations in digital government adapted to the Jordanian context,”saidSaroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director, in the statement.
 “A key lesson is pairing technology solutions with institutional reform, paving the way to create new jobs, increase efficiency and productivity and improve public services delivery, accountability and transparency,” he noted.
Today, one in five jobs in the Arab world requires digital skills, which are not yet widely available. The future of work for youth, women and refugees in Jordan will be determined by their increased ability to supply the skills demanded in emerging sectors driven by automation and innovation, read the statement.
“The project addresses constraints to both the supply and demand side by focusing on strengthening the supply of digital skills on one side, as well as on boosting the growth of the digital economy and hence jobs and income opportunities,” said Ali Abukumail, World Bank Senior Private Sector Specialist and Team Leader, in the statement.
The Youth, Technology and Jobs project is financed through a $163.1 million contribution from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and a $36.9 million grant from the Global Concessional Financing Facility (GCFF). Launched in 2016, the GCFF provides concessional financing to middle-income countries hosting large numbers of refugees at rates usually reserved for the poorest countries, concluded the statement.

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