Magharebia (Washington DC)

Libya: Young Libyans Face Tough Job Prospects

Benghazi — The problem of youth unemployment in Libya is masked and invisible but exists in abundance due to the refusal of some to engage in manual work, according to experts interviewed by Magharebia.

Many young people turn to the least tiring functions to the point of looking for more than one job in order to improve their financial situation since salaries in the country are low.

"The number of young applicants and job seekers is increasing dramatically," said Fayez al-Obeidi, director of the office of manpower's Benghazi branch. "Yet even when we employ some jobseekers in a specific location, they don't show up while their salaries continue to be paid monthly."

Al-Obeidi added, "There is also a problem of dual employment for some, costing the state a sizable amount without us benefiting from these human resources. Dual employment is a problem in the entirety of Libya due to the absence of a modern system of control. Some people are earning more than three salaries without really working."

Abdul Baset Mohamed, a teacher at a school in Marj said, "Young people are burdening the state's coffers with their unusual behaviour. On one hand, they are earning salaries without working and on the other hand, they are accusing the state of dereliction."

"This is caused by mismanagement and the fear of the unknown as though any young man who crosses a street is a ticking time bomb and the state has to satisfy him by all available means. This is confusing and disturbing," the 48-year-old teacher added.

Meanwhile, Ajdabiya native Moussa al-Maghribi said the situation was made worse by foreigners and western Libyans taking up jobs in the eastern oil fields. The human resource development specialist with Sirte Oil Company said the situation for youths in the east was "catastrophic".

"Seventy per cent of Cyrenaica's youth are unemployed. They joined the militias out of destitution, and this situation has exacerbated unemployment," al-Maghribi added.

Sports journalist Salah Najm said that "the problem in Libya lies in the mentality. The mentality of some of the Libyan youth is to look for easy work, in other words getting paid without really working, like desk jobs."

Mariam al-Kilani, a 46-year-old doctor from Benghazi echoed that sentiment.

"There are many available work opportunities in the private sector," al-Kilani said, adding "the problem is that we have people who don't want to work unless in the public sector and in high positions even if they lack qualifications or experience for those jobs."

"This is how they perceive unemployment: it is when the state doesn't provide them with jobs. In short, if they were serious in looking for work then there are many jobs available in the field of business, commerce, industry, agriculture and services," the Benghazi doctor said.

Hussein Mislaty, a TV presenter who is 47 years old, said the country's estimated 21 per cent unemployment rate was high in part due to a lack of development programmes under the former regime.

To help solve the problem, Mislaty suggested "obliging banks to contribute to the establishment of small and medium-sized enterprises and the provision of low interest loans to unemployed citizens that will be covered from the proceeds of those projects, as well as requiring companies to provide practical training to young people rather than asking for diplomas when all they need is a working staff".

"The Libyan youth culture must be addressed. It is a culture based on the non-acceptance of work in tough fields and positions, and seeking only easy administrative functions," he added.

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