The Kurdish Globe
The most important subject that concerns college students after graduation is finding a good job that pays good money. It is no small matter that with the current state of the economy, most of graduates, who often have marriage on the horizon and need housing, are either unemployed or working at no more than the minimum wage.
There is hardly an abundance of jobs in Kurdistan for fresh college graduates. Many job applications listed stipulate that one needs a "minimum of 3-5 years of experience" or increasingly that "recent college graduates need not apply".
With so many people getting laid off, the pool of potential employees that companies can hire contains not only candidates who have real experience as opposed to the average student, but who are also willing to work for less.
Hiwa Ghafour earned bachelor degree in Finance and Bank last month from Salahaddin University's College of Administration and Economy, and he now spends most of his time at teahouses and public parks as he struggles with unemployment.
Everyday at 5 p.m., Ghafour who is 22, heads to the Machko teahouse where many of his friends usually gather to spend their afternoons. He sometimes searches the Internet for openings, applies for jobs, and then follows up with phone calls. He has applied for several jobs but with no luck so far.
"I actually have no hope to get a job. There is no jobs for new graduates in this Region, the companies are only hiring those who have work experience, who know more than two languages, and know computer programs," said a hopeless Ghafour .
Ghafour applied for a job posted at the Family Mall in Erbil and after a two month wait he was interviewed, only to be later rejected as he doesn't speak Arabic.
The Kurdistan Region's unemployment rate is somewhere between 6% and 14% this year according to a survey conducted by KRG Ministry of Planning with the cooperation of Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS). Ghafour was one amongst thousands who graduated with a bachelor's degree in the school year that just ended.
Since there are no recruitment agencies or government employment centers in the Kurdistan Region, it is difficult to get information on job opportunities.
Despite the increase of business and a steady flow of foreign companies, the number of recruitment websites is still limited, and as a result looking for job opportunities is not easy.
Aweza.com and Chawyxelk.com are the only two websites that publish job announcements that people visit every day.
Rawand Ja'afer, 19, graduate from the Fine Arts Institute in Erbil, told the Globe that in Kurdistan job centers don't exist for those looking for jobs and since the government can't employ all the graduates in the public sectors, many people remain jobless.
'I decided to continue studying and apply to a Fine Arts Academy instead of waiting for a job that may take me a couple of years to get," noted Ja'afer
When asked if he has attempted to apply for a job in private sectors, Ja'afer answered "Those who don't know English or Arabic have difficulties finding jobs. The only available jobs are working as building laborers or waiters in restaurants with little money,"
For 2012, the government decided to recruit only 17,000 people including graduates for the public sectors. But the new graduates are unhappy with this number since the number of graduates and job seekers are a lot bigger.
There are several universities and institutes from wich thousands of students graduated this year. Salahaddin University, University of Duhok, Sulaimaniya University, University of Kurdistan Hawler (UKH), University of Koya, University of Soran, American University of Iraq, Hewlér Foundation of Technical Education, Suleimaniya Foundation of Technical Education are some of the government-funded academies whose graduates can apply for private sector positions.
There are several other private universities whose graduates can only apply for opportunities in the private sector.
One thing that can help job seekers to find jobs is the employment policy drafted by the Region's Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. The Council of Ministers decided in their session, held on June 25th, that the Ministry of Finance and Economy should allocate the required budget for the implementation of the policy.
According to this initiative, the unemployed people and the job seekers will be given vocational training and assisted by the Ministry of Labor to find job opportunities, especially in the private sector.
For those who had no job sometime in the past, life with all its pains and difficulties should be endured. Sardar Hamad, who graduated from Business Management department in Erbil six years ago, said "The new graduates should be strong and face the difficulties of life. When I graduated six years ago I was offered a job outside of my expertise but I accepted. What ruins people's life, is rejecting jobs they don't like,"
Hamad thinks the new graduates should strengthen their capacities by joining computer and language courses while working. "Once they think they are prepared for a better job, I am sure they will get it." Hamad noted.