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Over half of Lebanese graduates further careers through emigration.

Byline: Daily Star Staff

Summary: Over half of all Lebanese university graduates entering the labor market emigrate each year in search of better job opportunities.AaThis striking claim is the result of a comprehensive study of alumni trends, entitled "Higher Education and Labor Outcomes in Lebanon."The study, released Wednesday, surveyed over 400 university graduates from the American University of Beirut (AUB), Saint Joseph University.

BEIRUT: Over half of all Lebanese university graduates entering the labor market emigrate each year in search of better job opportunities.AaThis striking claim is the result of a comprehensive study of alumni trends, entitled "Higher Education and Labor Outcomes in Lebanon."The study, released Wednesday, surveyed over 400 university graduates from the American University of Beirut (AUB), Saint Joseph University, Lebanese University and Beirut Arab University through web-based questionnaires.Aa

More than 70 percent of respondents were AUB alumni.Aa

The study, Aashowed that up to 60 percent of graduates leave the country every year, not long after earning their degrees. As a result, researchers noted that despite the high investment the country is putting in developing skilled labor, it was not reaping the expected benefits.Aa

Emigrating alumni cited career advancement, not security issues or financial gains, as their primary reason driving them to leave, said Aaeconomist and AUB professor Jad Chaaban, who conducted the study with AUB director of Alumni Relations Arabia Osseiran.

The report recommended comprehensive macro-economic reforms be implemented in order to stimulate investment in employment-generating sectors. The private sector is currently focused on real-estate and financial services fueled by petrodollars, he added.Aa

"The economy is not generating enough jobs to absorb the skilled labor," Chaaban said. Citing the study's results, he proposed career guidance offices be set up in all universities.Aa

Mentoring programs involving alumni advising students on career options could also help guide students in their choices, he said.Aa

Osseiran recommended the survey be repeated every five years, and that all universities start building their own alumni databases to expand study samples and enhance results.Aa

Caretaker Education Minister Bahia Hariri, who attended the launch in her capacity as president of the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development, said the purpose of endorsing such a study was to help develop and empower young people in Lebanon.Aa

The Hariri Foundation was a key partner to the study.

"We hope that this study will act as a launching-pad for in-depth discussions and more elaborate studies," said Hariri. "We also hope to look for solutions to the problems highlighted by the study in order to transform this country into one that can accommodate the potential of all its youth and young graduates."Aa

UN Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Resident Representative Marta Ruedas called the study a "very important" contribution.Aa

"This report will tell us if the labor market that young people are in is suited to the education they are getting and it will tell us about the policies required to redress the situation." UNDP helped fund the report.Aa

The report was released by AUB's Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI).Aa

Rami Khouri, IFI's executive director, lauded the report, saying it was an important contribution to policy formulation.Aa

"It was important to understand why young people move around [and] how they see themselves, so that we could undertake more effective policy throughout the region," Khouri said.Aa

AUB president Peter Dorman commended the survey's researchers, saying it was "an excellent example of what can be accomplished through strategic partnerships with other universities as well as with public and private organizations, both local and international. Our best chance to make a difference is when we work together to focus on our common challenges and take advantage of our strengths."Aa

"One of AUB's major priorities in the coming years is to expand and enhance the ways in which we respond to the needs of the community beyond our walls," Dorman added. "Promoting sustainable and balanced growth, and helping to safeguard Lebanon's vital human capital are prime examples of things that are good for Lebanon and good for universities in this country." -- The Daily Star

Aa

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Oct 31, 2009
Words:715
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