By Hassan Benmehdi
By Hassan Benmehdi
Casablanca, January 31, 2012
A jobless Moroccan graduate died last week, six days after setting himself on fire in Rabat. Abdelwahab Zeidoun’s death on January 24th was the latest in a string of suicides by fire that have rocked the Maghreb. The 27-year-old protestor was among a group of graduates who had staged a two-week sit-in near the ministry of education to win public-sector jobs.
The protestors complained that they had been left out of an initiative to recruit youths directly under an agreement reached with the previous government last year.
Despite having a graduate degree in information studies from the University of Fes, Zeidoun was unable to land a job. He and another man burnt themselves on January 18th.
To deal with the swelling tide of popular discontent, Morocco has implemented a raft of new job creation measures. Authorities hope the series of projects will help steer the kingdom’s young people towards more productive ends, away from potentially destructive paths.
In addition to the already-existing programmes of Moukawalati, Taahil and Idmaj, the government crafted a new roadmap that envisages three other programmes.
“Moubadara” (Initiative) focuses on employment within community-level organisations in the social and education sectors. “Taatir” (Training) is aimed at the long-term unemployed and is intended to find jobs for 50,000 people per year, and “Istiaab” (Assimilation) is designed to integrate the informal sector into the formal economy.
Youth unemployment is a priority for the new government, which is working as hard as it can to find adequate solutions and address public expectations, Economy and Finance Minister Nizar Baraka told Magharebia.
The government’s earlier programmes, however, have been criticised by the Economic and Social Council for their lack of relevance.
Mourad Arrouchi, an unemployed graduate who is a member of the “Leaders of the Solution of March 1st”, remains sceptical of officials’ promises.
“We will continue to work on all fronts to get jobs in the public sector at all costs,” he said. Others allege that government officials recruit people based on family connections and favouritism.
While some economy analysts argue that the new measures may be insufficient to boost employment, they recognise the difficulty and complexity of the problem.
“We must still be realistic, because in a context of budgetary difficulties, we can’t employ massive numbers of people or else we will risk even greater budget deficits,” said financial analyst Abdo Hakim. “Recruitment must address a clear need and candidates must meet the required skill criteria.”