DUBAI: A team of young Lebanese expatriates and locals is hoping to turn the tide on the country’s unemployment crisis with the launch of an ambitious online job-creation initiative.
Lebanon’s recent economic woes had already contributed to a significant rise in the number of people out of work before the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak delivered another hefty blow to its fragile employment market.
But the 28 team members behind JobsForLebanon.com aim to share the best of their expertise to build positive change and help potential jobseekers find work in Lebanon.
They are calling upon the diaspora of 16 million Lebanese to hire skilled talent on a freelance basis in the country.
The catalyst for the project was the anti-government protests that started in Lebanon in October last year.
Roy Baladi, 36, a San Francisco-based computer scientist who specializes in recruitment technology, said: “It started with a phone call from a childhood friend of mine. That was in December, when the hopes of the revolution were high, and everybody was excited.
“She (Baladi’s friend) had just returned from maternity leave and had 10-12 messages and emails from highly educated people, who were looking for a job or money. That rang an alarm bell in my mind.
“The (Lebanese) Ministry of Finance showed that 45 percent of the population makes less than 5 million liras a year, that’s $3,300 a year. Half the population is making less than 250 bucks a month – who can live on that? You can’t pay for tuition, gasoline, and groceries. It’s beyond unemployment – it’s no jobs and severe levels of poverty.”
Baladi began connecting with socially engaged Lebanese organizers from around the world, such as Expats United, in a bid to get a campaign going and when he returned to Lebanon for Christmas his New York-based brother, Edwin Baladi, 34, helped with others to bring JobsForLebanon to life.
The team launched its website last month and visitors can view a video of members of the Lebanese international community encouraging involvement in the jobs initiative with the message, “together, we can unleash the power of the Lebanese community. No matter where we are, together we can keep the economy alive.”
Powered by SmartRecruiters – a major recruiting software platform – the website allows employers to post job offerings and candidates to apply for them. Already the site has had visits from users in 131 countries, more than 100 jobs have been posted, and at least 1,000 candidates have registered. Five hires have been confirmed.
The team plans to grow its partnerships and collaborate with embassies to promote the initiative. Australia and the Netherlands are also among countries looking to launch similar hiring e-platforms based on the JobsForLebanon model.