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Jordan orders youth army conscription in bid to tackle unemployment

Jordanian soldiers in Amman, Jordan on 18 March 2020 [KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images]
Jordanian soldiers in Amman, Jordan on 18 March 2020 [KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images]

Jordan has announced plans to conscript 25-29-year-olds into the army for a one-year period in an attempt to tackle rising unemployment in the country.

Plans for the scheme were officially agreed between Labour Minister Nidal Bataineh and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the Jordanian army Major General Yousef Huneiti, yesterday, under the supervision of Prime Minister Omar Razzaz.

The aim of the scheme is to mitigate against rising unemployment rates as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, according to Razzaz, who was quoted by local outlet Roya News as saying:

"Our youth and human resources are our most valuable assets, and we cannot stand idly as unemployment rates increase, which is a global phenomenon that is worsening in the light of the continuing coronavirus crisis."

Under the scheme, conscripts, who will have to surrender use of their mobile phones during their service, will receive three months of military training, including two weeks of community service, followed by a nine-month placement in the private sector.

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The programme, Razzaz said, focuses on teaching conscripts "professional, technical and digital skills" which will be useful "in the workplace at a later stage."

Conscripts, who must pass a medical examination prior to joining, will receive a monthly wage of 100 dinars ($141) during their training and have their private sector salary subsidised by up to 220 dinars ($310) by the army, Arab News reported.

Those who enlist will also be signed up to the country's social security programme and provided with family health insurance for the duration of their military service.

Conscription, which has not existed in Jordan since 1994, will apply to those who were born in 1995 or later who are not working, studying, residing abroad, the head of a family or an only son at the time of enlisting.

At least 5,000 young Jordanians are expected to be conscripted into the military under the scheme this year, rising to 15,000 in 2021, the Jordan Times cited Bataineh as saying.

Jordan already runs a National Service Programme which aims to provide members of the country's youth with vocational training in the industry, construction and tourism sectors. According to Bataineh, the two projects are expected to run alongside one another.

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