has become the first Arab country to launch a national campaign to promote its vocational education and training system. The campaign, on behalf of Jordan’s Ministry of Labour, is to run for four years starting this year. Communications agency Prisma, specialists in social marketing, is in charge of both the design and operational side of things.
Part of a broader reform of Jordanian vocational education and training, the campaign has two aims: raising its profile and encouraging more young Jordanians to consider working in vocational jobs. What lies behind this is the determination of the Jordanian government to increase the overall labour market participation rate. At around 40% - some 66% for men and just 14% for women, it is one of the lowest in the region.
Skills mismatch is also an issue. “We have a lot of university graduates but the labour market need is for intermediate and skilled people and we have high youth unemployment. Many job opportunities in the Jordanian economy tend to go to foreign labour because Jordanians are not willing to take these jobs,” says Nadera Al-Bakheet, director of the E-TVET Council Secretariat.
Prisma is using social marketing techniques to bring about the desired change in attitudes; young people are the main target group, with young women a significant sub-group, followed by parents, teachers, career counsellors and employers. The approach involves identifying the current behaviour of target groups and looking at the barriers that are stopping them from changing this. “For instance what is preventing youth from taking up the opportunities of TVET? How may parents be discouraging students from doing this?” says Hala Darwazeh, co-ordinator of the campaign at Prisma.
The initiative is using a mix of traditional and social media to reach its audience. The campaign team are aware that engineering social change will not happen overnight but can be done slowly but surely. “Something that 20 years ago was socially acceptable such as smoking no longer is today. When anti-smoking campaigns started they faced some resistance but now it is the social norm that smoking is not cool,” says Saad Darwazeh, managing director of Prisma, “the question of job stereotyping for women is exactly the same.”
The article by Rebecca Warden appears in the new issue of ETF magazine Live&Learn.