Young Libyans train as pastry chefs as state jobs dry up

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Young people learn how to prepare cakes and sweets at Sarah Center for Sweets in Benghazi, Libya December 14, 2019. Picture taken December 14, 2019. (Reuters)
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Young people learn how to prepare cakes and sweets at Sarah Center for Sweets in Benghazi, Libya. December 14, 2019 Picture taken December 14, 2019 (Reuters)
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Young people learn how to prepare cakes and sweets at Sarah Center for Sweets in Benghazi, Libya December 14, 2019. Picture taken December 14, 2019. (Reuters)
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Updated 30 December 2019

Young Libyans train as pastry chefs as state jobs dry up

  • The “Benghazino chef course” teaches the confectionery trade
  • Most Libyans work in the public sector but the state has been hiring less, and jobs in the private sector have become scarce

BENGHAZI: After several attempts at landing a job in Libya’s state oil industry, 22-year-old engineering graduate Belghasem Abdulsalam decided to make a living baking cakes.
Most Libyans work in the public sector but the state has been hiring less as the country has been engulfed in conflict in the years since the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
Jobs in the private sector have also become scarce, as foreign companies have left due to the deteriorating security situation.
Forced to give up his dream of working in the oil industry, Abdulsalam took the “Benghazino chef course” at a private training center in Benghazi to learn the confectionery trade.
He now works full time in a busy cafe in Benghazi and he gets paid every month, unlike many who work fore the cash-strapped public sector.
“The income is much better than from the government because you have your salary in your hand,” Abdulsalam said.
The training center’s owner, accountancy graduate Sara Bashir Al-Zawy, 35, said young people needed to take care of themselves.
“If I had been waiting for the country to provide me with a job, I would have been unemployed at home for eight years now,” she said.
Another alumnus of the confectionery course, 30-year-old Nabil Mohamed Al-Mabrouk, started his own cake business to cater to cafes and supplement his father’s state pension of 450 dinars ($321) in order to feed a family of nine.
“My hands make money,” said Mabrouk, who has a certificate of business administration and bank financing. “Making three to four cakes can gain me half of a state salary.”


Protesters pack Tel Aviv rally against coronavirus cash crisis

Updated 3 min 37 sec ago

Protesters pack Tel Aviv rally against coronavirus cash crisis

  • Event was organized by self-employed, small business and performing artists’ groups angry at coronavirus curbs which have taken away their livelihoods
TEL AVIV: Thousands of Israelis streamed into Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to protest Saturday against the government’s handling of economic hardship caused by coronavirus curbs.
About 300 officers were deployed in the square, a traditional protest site, to ensure public order and monitor social distancing regulations, police said.
Many participants wore facemasks but most appeared to be less than the statutory two meters (yards) apart.
Some held banners reading in Hebrew: “Let us breathe” — an echo of worldwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, during a US police arrest.
The event was organized by self-employed, small business and performing artists’ groups angry at coronavirus curbs which have taken away their livelihoods.
Student unions also took part over the large numbers of young people made jobless by closures.
Israel imposed a broad lockdown from the middle of March, allowing only staff deemed essential to go to work and banning public assembly.
Places of entertainment were closed, hitting the leisure industry hard.
Facing public and economic pressure, the government eased restrictions in late May.
But infections have mounted and rules tightened again, including the closure of event venues, clubs, bars, gyms and public pools.
While salaried workers sent on furlough received unemployment benefits, the self-employed said most had been waiting months for promised government aid.
“There is a very grave crisis of confidence between us and the government,” Shai Berman, one of the protest organizers told Israeli public radio ahead of the rally.
“We are part of a very large public which is feeling growing distress and wants to demonstrate and simply does not believe the promises,” he added.
Berman was among activists invited Friday to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and finance ministry officials in a last-minute government effort to stave off the protest.
“He tried, very politely,” Berman said, adding that an aid package presented at the meeting was a start, but flawed.
Netanyahu promised swift implementation.
“We will meet our commitments including hastening the immediate payments that we want to give you,” his office quoted him as telling the activists.
On Friday, the health ministry announced the highest number of coronavirus infections over a 24-hour period, with nearly 1,500 new cases confirmed.
The country of roughly nine million has now registered more than 37,000 cases, including over 350 deaths.