A report by the Social and Economic Policies Monitor (Al-Marsad) showed that the percentage of unemployment in the Palestinian society will keep on increasing more and more over time. The level of unemployment this year approximately reached 32%. The continuous increase in unemployment percentages is contributed by the large corporations in the private sector. The government sector is implementing a compulsory retirement procedure that aims to lower the cost of wages, but at the same time will increase the financial pressure on the Palestinian Pension Agency that is already suffering from financial problems. This will also intensify the competition over the limited job opportunities in the Palestinian labour Market.
The report also stated that labour rights are being violated equally in both the informal sector, and in other sectors that are considered formal and registered. Hundreds of private sector employees are losing their jobs yearly. Employees that have spent long years working in private sector corporations are being let go, especially in companies that make enormous amounts of profit in a society that suffers from high percentages of poverty and unemployment. The strategy behind firing hundreds of employees and replacing them with newly graduates is considered a way to maximize profit, and is not used as a solution for any financial deficit.
In regards to the government sector, Almarsad’s report states that the austerity policy the international monetary fund (IMF) is demanding the Palestinian Government to implement, will contribute in increasing unemployment percentages in the Palestinian society. As the IMF proposes stopping job assignments, promotions, and early retirement without taking into consideration essential issues. The most important of these issues is the rise of retirement wages cost to 1.6 billion shekels, which will cause more financial problems for the Palestinian Pension Agency.
Retirement is not being addressed from an economic perspective to provide new job opportunities to the young generations, as the plan prevents assigning more people in the Government sector. At the same time the percentage of employees with temporary contracts are rising, which means these employees are not getting their full rights and privileges that they are entitled to.
Early retirement relatively affects the young groups of the population; therefore, the law allows them to go back to work once again in the non-governmental sector. This increases the burden on the labour market, since the retired are also competing with the newly graduates for the job opportunities.
That truth that public and government policy makers are facing is that the institutions of higher education are graduating over 40 thousand graduates annually, where the local market could only provide around 8 thousand job opportunities to people that are aged between 20-29 years old.
Instead of blaming the higher education institutions for not addressing the needs of the market and the private sector, the policy makers should search for other factors would cause an increase in poverty and unemployment in the Palestinian society. Mainly, the occupation, and the absence of investments in sectors that require more labour like agriculture, and the industrial sector. Not to mention the increase in number and variety of technical institutions that the private sector should finance its establishment, instead of commodifying all the higher education institutions in order to satisfy the market’s needs. As this isn’t its role or only job.
Unemployment and employment, and the social phenomena that are a result of them like poverty and the increase of migration or thinking about immigrating by the youth is the main responsibility of the government. It should stop avoiding these important issues, and face them with a liberational development approach by seeing people as goals instead of burdens.