In Atarib, a city west of Aleppo, Mohammed Al-Salit, a law graduate from the Free University of Idleb (2020), runs a small shop selling hot drinks as a means of survival. Despite his degree, Al-Salit has faced significant challenges in finding employment in the region’s humanitarian and government organizations, leading him to pursue alternative means of livelihood.
Al-Salit’s experience reflects a broader trend in northwestern Syria, where university graduates struggle to find job opportunities matching their qualifications. Despite continuous efforts to secure positions in humanitarian organizations, Al-Salit, along with many others, has not received any responses, attributing this lack of opportunity to nepotism and a lack of connections.
Supporting a family with three daughters, Al-Salit finds more stability in his small shop than in his university degree, which now hangs in a frame within the shop. His story is emblematic of the difficulties faced by many university graduates in the region.
Educational Institutions and Rising Unemployment
The situation of university graduates in Idleb and Aleppo is bleak. Interviews conducted by the Syria TV website reveal that students have little hope of finding relevant employment post-graduation. Many anticipate joining the ranks of the unemployed, their degrees offering no more than a symbol of their academic efforts.
Imad Bouzgha, an English literature graduate from the Free University of Aleppo, has taken up various jobs unrelated to his field, including selling sweets and working at a gas station. His experience underscores the disconnect between university education and the labour market.
The Response of Educational Institutions
Ahmed Al-Qaddour, Deputy Director of the Free University of Aleppo, emphasizes that the primary role of universities is to impart knowledge, not facilitate employment. He notes the diverse nature of university branches and the varying job prospects for different fields, with medical graduates having better employment prospects due to a shortage of medical staff in the region.
Al-Qaddour stresses the importance of students choosing majors wisely, considering market demands. However, he acknowledges the lack of job opportunities for graduates in fields like law and political science in northern Syria. He criticizes the regional governments for not establishing centers that could utilize these degrees, such as judiciary institutes or police colleges, which could create job opportunities if adequately supported.
The experiences of Al-Salit, Bouzgha, and other graduates in northwestern Syria highlight the disconnect between higher education and the job market, exacerbated by the region’s unstable political and economic conditions. The situation calls for a concerted effort from educational institutions and government bodies to bridge this gap and create opportunities that align with the academic qualifications of the region’s youth.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.