BEIRUT: The Lebanese government launched Monday a program called “First Job,” which is aimed at tackling unemployment among fresh university graduates.
“We call on the Lebanese youth to avoid falling into despair and considering leaving the country,” Prime Minister Najib Mikati said during a ceremony held at the Grand Serail.
“The program will be a second cornerstone to the government’s socioeconomic policy after the youth policy project that was endorsed by the Cabinet and is awaiting approval by Parliament.”
Mikati stressed that unemployment and emigration of youth are among the biggest challenges facing the Lebanese economy.
The program, which will be managed in partnership with the National Employment Office, the World Bank and the Labor Ministry, presents incentives for companies to hire first-time job applicants.
The government will fully cover the National Social Security Fund subscription fees incurred by employers who hire first-time job applicants during the first year and will partially cover second-year NSSF fees.
The program, which will be implemented over five years and has a $6.6 million budget, will also provide training for job seekers.
“Lebanon has a high unemployment rate, particularly among the youth. Moving from university to the labor market takes a very long time,” said Haneen Sayed, human development coordinator at the World Bank.
Sayed said unemployment among youth reached 34 percent in 2010.
Jan Abi Fadel, head of the NEO, said the project would pioneer cooperation between the government and private and nongovernmental sectors to help graduates find jobs.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 11, 2012, on page 5.