The Labour Ministry [in Jordan]  has decided to suspend the recruitment of foreign workers  to address the challenges facing its efforts to find jobs for unemployed Jordanians, a senior official said Sunday.
Labour Minister Nidal Katamine noted that some two million guest workers are currently staying and working in the Kingdom, nearly half of them without work permits, adding that Syrian refugees complicated the ministry's efforts to combat unemployment in the country.
According to a Department of Statistics (DoS) survey issued Sunday, the unemployment rate during the first quarter of this year stood at 12.8 per cent, compared with 11.4 per cent during the same period in 2012.
The DoS survey, which covered a sample of 13,000 households, revealed that 53.1 per cent of the unemployed fell within the category with an education of higher than a high school degree.
"We have an abundance of guest workers already in the country; hence, we made the decision to suspend the recruitment of foreigners of all nationalities," Katamine told The Jordan Times.
"Our priority is to find work for unemployed Jordanians . We have a challenge in creating 100,000 jobs a year to address the unemployment rate and we insist that employers give citizens a chance to take up jobs and prove themselves," he added.
Noting that nearly 1.3 million Syrians live in Jordan, Katamine said 30 per cent of them are of working age.
He added that the ministry is collaborating with the University of Jordan's Centre for Strategic Studies to conduct a comprehensive study on the economic and social impact of Syrian workers on the local market.
Katamine stressed that there are no longer any professions that Jordanians would shun due to the "culture of shame" because of the difficult living conditions and the need to find a source of income that secures a decent life.
The minister added that in light of the increasing and persistent violations of labour regulations, the ministry is intensifying its campaign against employers who do not abide by the law, noting that nearly 500 companies currently face closure for insisting on hiring guest workers illegally.