Jul 29, 2014


The Jordan New Opportunities for Women (NOW) program is intended to increase the rate of employment for new female community college graduates in Jordan.  Participants are offered soft skills job training and/or job vouchers that reimburse employers at the minimum wage rate for up to six months over an 11-month period.  (Note: This summary is for the combined voucher and training program: see also ‘Jordan New Opportunities for Women – Training Program’ and ‘Jordan New Opportunities for Women – Voucher Program.’)  An experimental evaluation found that the offer of job vouchers along with participation in soft skills job training had a statistically significant positive impact on the number of locations that a graduate was allowed by her family to move to independently.


Target population:  recent female community college graduates

The New Opportunities for Women (NOW) program is intended to increase employment of new female graduates of community colleges in Jordan. Some of the graduates were offered both soft skills job training and job vouchers that guaranteed employers reimbursement at the minimum wage rate ($210/month), for up to six months, if they hired new graduates.  Firms using the vouchers had to meet eligibility requirements, including being registered, having a bank account, and providing an offer letter with the graduate’s name and specific work duties. The non-transferable job vouchers were valid for 11 months, and the graduates could use them with more than one employer.  The community-based soft job skills training was intended to enhance job readiness.  The free soft skills training covered effective communications and business writing, team-building and team work skills, time management, positive thinking, customer service, and resume and interviewing skills.  Each course took 45 hours over five days.  Seventeen training courses were offered at six locations during daylight hours at locally trusted institutions.  The cost of the training was approximately $400/attendee.  The program was publicized through the Chamber of Commerce, newspaper advertisements, and an official government web site.  An information helpline was also made available to employers.


Evaluated Population: There were 1,350 female graduates of eight public community colleges who participated in the study, representing 85 percent of all community college female graduates in Jordan.  The typical graduate was 20 to 22 years old, unmarried, and had never been employed.  Nearly half had studied administration and finance, one-quarter had studied medical assistance, and one in ten had studied to become a teacher. There were no statistically significant differences among the groups at baseline, other than that the group that received training only was less likely to live in a household with Internet access.  At the time of the baseline survey, eight percent had found full-time work after graduation.

Approach: Baseline surveys were conducted for all second-year female students before their final examinations.  Of the 1,395 students who passed their examinations, 1,349 were randomly assigned to one of four groups, with 300 in the job voucher and soft skills training group, and 449 in the control group.  Follow-up surveys were conducted at six and 14 months after the start of the interventions.  Both rounds collected data on employment outcomes and the final survey also collected data on a range of well-being measures, including mental health, well-being, and empowerment.

Results: This study found that assignment to the voucher and training group resulted in a statistically significant positive impact on the number of locations that a graduate was allowed by her family to go to by herself.  All other outcomes for the job voucher and training group were found to be non-significant.



Groh, M., Krishnan, N., McKenzie, D., Vishwanath, T. (2012). Soft skills or hard cash? The impact of training and wage subsidy programs on female youth employment in Jordan. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 6141.

KEYWORDS: Young Adults (18-24), College, Female only, Community-based, Skills Training, Employment/Earnings, Job Training/readiness

Program information last updated on 7/29/2014.