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Raising Awareness of Alternatives to Public Sector Employment Among Syrian Youth


  • Nader Kabbani

    () (Syria Trust for Development)

  • Leen Al-Habash

    () (Syria Trust for Development)


In 2003, over 80 percent of unemployed 15-29 year-olds in Syria sought jobs in the public sector and 60 percent preferred jobs exclusively in the public sector. The purpose of this paper is to examine the preferences of young people in Syria for public sector jobs. The paper also discusses an intervention aimed at raising awareness among students about alternatives to public sector employment. Selection into the pool of unemployed is a key issue in our analysis. Preference for public sector jobs was found to be higher among young women and tends to increase with age and educational attainment through secondary school. Young men are motivated in their job search by family need. Social norms appear to influence the employment choices of young women. The difference in expected wages of unemployed youth in the public and private sectors was also associated with public sector job preference. SHABAB, a local NGO, has introduced programs to raise awareness of opportunities in the private sector, and the benefits of starting a business among young Syrians. An evaluation of one of its programs conducted on students found that young male participants were significantly more likely than non-participants to identify self-employment as a career option. The increase among young women was weaker and not statistically significant. The evaluation found inconsistencies between the impressions that young people had about public and private sectors and the realities as observed through household survey data. This supports other evidence that most Syrian students do not engage in labor market activities or begin thinking about a career prior to completing school. Since the attitudes of students do not yet appear to have been shaped by labor market realities or social stigma, programs that raise awareness of employment alternatives may be appropriate for this group.

Suggested Citation

  • Nader Kabbani & Leen Al-Habash, 2008. "Raising Awareness of Alternatives to Public Sector Employment Among Syrian Youth," Working Papers 387, Economic Research Forum, revised 01 Jan 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:erg:wpaper:387

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    1. World Bank, 2007. "World Development Indicators 2007," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 8150.
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