Lebanon's unemployed youth have few options

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Article Summary
Poverty has driven a number of Lebanese youth to drop out of school and sell small trinkets on the streets.

There are many kinds of unemployment, like the unemployment of the youth, the educated and degree holders, adults and “disguised” unemployment. In all its aspects, it creates a complex problem for most, if not all, countries today. Neglecting its treatment or not properly handling its causes makes unemployment even more complicated, especially since the method of treatment differs for each aspect. Sometimes, this difference is fundamental.

This article will discuss one of the forgotten aspects in Lebanon: the unemployment of uneducated youth, and those with low education levels. The latter have dropped out of school after, or in the middle of, their basic education and started selling simple products in [intersections], traffic jams and markets, chasing after pedestrians and cars in a way that seems more like begging than selling. During this time in their lives, youths should be building their future, instead of wasting it selling products of little or no value. 

Some might see this work as a sort of disguised unemployment, which is normally seen in villages or the public sector, where the governmental departments employ more people than they actually need. Even if seen as a sort of disguised unemployment, it is of a special kind that requires a special treatment and must be handled differently.

We had the chance to speak to some of these young, uneducated, unemployed people, and we found out that they would like to have better jobs but could not find anything, so they settled for this kind of work. They also admitted that these jobs are pointless. On one hand, the jobs have no future and they do not even give the youths a sense of productivity. On the other, they are not as profitable as they would wish, since they only make 10,000 to 15,000 Lebanese liras ($6.66-$10) a day. We asked why they could not find something that requires energy and strength instead of education. They could start working with business owners, like with someone who paints houses, a carpenter or a construction worker. They could settle for the same amount of money they make now and consider it as a training period. When they master the profession, they would get paid more and they could even start their own business independently.

Youths found the idea very appealing and said that they never thought of it that way, but when they had tried to find work employers wouldn’t hire them because they lacked experience. We spoke to some business owners who also liked the idea and agreed to hire these young people and pay them small wages as a start until they master the profession. We managed to arrange a meeting between one of these young people and an employer. However, this problem is much bigger than something that can be solved with an individual effort.

It is much easier and more worthwhile to find an official solution to the problem, whereby the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Social Affairs handles the issue through forming units that would include both these young people and business owners. Due to illiteracy or low education levels these young people cannot find a useful way to change their [livelihood] and this is why they are stuck in a vicious circle. The work they do, which is more begging than working, is not profitable enough and does not make them feel like productive individuals. Yet, they might not have the [means] to think of a way to change their useless work by starting somewhere simple and gaining the experience they need.

This might be the cheapest and easiest method of treatment because it does not require training sessions since the training comes while working in the field. Even if they don’t not make it at the first job they get, they can always change jobs after finding a way to get a suitable one.

If this forgotten category of [uneducated youths] starts finding useful jobs, their personal and the national revenue would be much more significant, especially since having such jobs would protect them from vicious people who might take advantage of them for illegal purposes, like theft and drugs.

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Found in: youth, unemployment, poverty, lebanon, begging
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