A Challenging Market Becomes More Challenging: Jordanian Workers, Migrant Workers and Refugees in the Jordanian Labour Market

The entry of Syrians into the Jordanian labour market has exacerbated an already challenging situation. There are now three distinct groups of workers in Jordan: Jordanians, migrant workers and Syrian refugees. Because all three groups are present in significant numbers, the challenges for any group must be addressed within the context of the labour market as a whole. This study, based on extensive fieldwork, aims to contribute to the debate around three policy challenges: increasing Jordanian employment, ensuring decent working conditions in all jobs, and incorporating Syrian workers into the labour market.

Three findings stand out. Firstly, far from having an immutable culture of shame, Jordanian workers articulate specific working conditions that impact their willingness and eagerness to work, whatever the sector or occupation. Secondly, the working conditions prevalent among migrant workers and Syrian refugees put Jordanian workers at a disadvantage vis-à-vis non-Jordanians. Thirdly, although the laws governing Jordan’s immigration and work permit system are sensible, disconnects have emerged between the regulations surrounding the law on the one hand, and the needs of employers and workers for short-term and part-time employment arrangements on the other.