MOSUL: In an Iraqi province where unemployment is about 40 percent, a lucky few hoped to find work Sunday at a university job fair attended by French firms alongside local companies.
The three-day event is taking place at the University of Mosul in Iraq's war-ravaged second city, where reconstruction has been slow five years after the Iraqi army backed by US-led coalition air strikes pushed out Islamic State jihadists, reports AFP.
Abdallah said he'd been looking for work since 2019 when he graduated in petroleum engineering.
"Our number increases each day and the opportunities are rare," he said of the unemployed. "A young person has to get married and help his parents."
Statistics from Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital, say unemployment is around 40 percent generally and 20 percent for those aged 24-45.
Joblessness is similarly high elsewhere in the country which is trying to move past decades of war but is hobbled by corruption and other problems which sparked a youth-led protest movement in 2019.
"Unemployment is perhaps the ogre that devours the dreams of the young," said Qussay al-Ahmad, president of the University of Mosul.
Mustafa Aziz, 26, is among those fortunate to already be working. He hoped to recruit graduates with expertise in renewable energy or electrical engineering for his seven-member team at Mosul Solar.
"We need specific competence and expertise," he said.
The job fair is part of a project called Yanhad, financed by France and the European Union, Jeremie Pellet, director general of Expertise France, told AFP over the phone.
"This fits into our perspective of looking for future prospects and diversification of the private sector economy for Iraqi youth," said Pellet.
Yanhad had already supported a business "incubator" which has trained about 320 young people in entrepreneurship and financed a dozen start-ups, Pellet said.