Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 October 2020

Clear picture on jobs is hard to come by in Lebanon

Even the official unemployment rate is quoted at nine per cent, which is considered relatively high across the board.
BEIRUT // Kamil Saleman, a young man in his 30s, decided to return to Lebanon from the US in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis - but faced a hard homecoming.

The holder of a BS degree in computer science and an MBA from a US university, he had five years of experience in financial IT and consulting. This year, he spent six months looking for a job in Lebanon.

"I attended job fairs and sent my resume out to various companies and every single Lebanese bank. I was only interviewed by one consulting company. Many recruiters felt I was overqualified," he says. Mr Saleman has since returned to the US, where he is back on the jobs market.

In Lebanon, the official unemployment rate is 9 per cent, which is considered relatively high across the board. In a country where no official population census - essential for any proper labour survey - has been conducted since 1936, however, the real unemployment problem is more complicated.

According to Nassib Ghobril, the head economist at Byblos Bank, Lebanon has avoided an official census for almost 75 years, with labour statistics resultingly, therefore, mere approximations.

Although there are no official figures regarding the size of the Lebanese workforce, Mr Ghobril estimates the banking sector employs about 16,500 people. According to World Travel Tourism Council, the tourism sector employs about 553,000 individuals, including those working in sub-sectors or on a seasonal basis. Information Internationalpoints out the industrial sector is made up of about 130,000 people.

The research company, however, conducted its own study in 2005. It estimated the jobless rate as high as 16.6 per cent. The census established at the time that 30,000 people joined the labour market every year. About 27 per cent of job seekers were able to find work, some 20 per emigrated and 53.4 per cent remained unemployed.

The Lebanese Economic Association's Jad Chaabanlast week stated unemployment in Lebanon affected "about 25 per cent of young people today".

For a large portion of the Lebanese population unable to find a job, emigration is the solution.

"Every year, 15,000 to 20,000 Lebanese leave the country, [mostly] young people, about half of all graduates," says Mr Chaaban

The labour situation is even more hopeless for the 300,000 Palestinian refugees residing in Lebanon, who face unemployment estimates as high as 60 per cent. Like Abed Awad, a Palestinian refugee with a physics major living in the southern Ain el Helweh camp, they areunable to travel to look for work because of their refugee status.

business@thenational.ae

Updated: November 28, 2010 04:00 AM

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