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It's either bribery or shattered dreams.. Egypt's best students denied employment in the job market

It's either bribery or shattered dreams.. Egypt's best students denied employment in the job market

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Life Marginalized Groups Basic Rights

Monday 21 August 202311:59 am
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

إما الرشوة أو ضياع الحلم… متفوقون مستبعدون من فرص العمل في مصر


Mahmoud Masad, 25, has always excelled in his studies since his childhood. He continued to do so until he managed to join the Faculty of Petroleum and Mining Engineering, one of Egypt's top engineering colleges, known for its academic excellence, and he graduated with honors and distinction in 2021.

Following his graduation, Mahmoud believed that securing a job, whether in academia or one of the petroleum and mining companies operating in Egypt, would be a matter of time. He immediately embarked on his quest, applying to around 25 government and private companies over the course of two years. However, his academic brilliance did not guarantee him employment. The journey to find a job ended in failure, as some companies hired individuals without publicly advertising the available positions. Others hired those with lower qualifications than his. He and his high-achieving peers were left jobless, prompting him to sarcastically offer his diploma for sale (legally and procedurally prohibited in Egypt) as a statement of his frustration with the situation.

You might notice the use of the past tense in referencing Mahmoud's story and his experiences since the beginning of the report. This is because Mahmoud passed away two days before the publication of this report due to a car accident. His dreams, which the job market in Egypt turned into a nightmare, came to an end once and for all.

You might notice the use of the past tense in referencing Mahmoud's story and his experiences since the beginning of the report. This is because Mahmoud passed away two days before the publication of this report due to a car accident. His dreams, which the job market in Egypt turned into a nightmare, came to an end once and for all.

Nepotism as the best guarantee

Before his passing, and as this report was being finalized, Mahmoud recounted to Raseef22 the challenges he faced while applying for job opportunities. The young man, whose life journey concluded before he reached the age of 24, said, "I applied to work in 25 companies, and in at least three of those companies, I left the interview after being congratulated on getting the job. In one of the interviews, one of the engineers responsible for conducting the interview told me, 'Congratulations, you have a high score and you're one of the best candidates. May God grant you success with us.' But I don't know what happened afterwards."

According to Mahmoud's experiences, some companies hire engineers without announcing job openings. Instead, they hire based on personal connections within the company. "When I wanted to submit my CV, the security personnel would take it and dispose of it, since I didn't know anyone there. Once, I was surprised by a person who had connections within one of the companies. He asked me to pay 800,000 pounds as a commission for me to get a job within the company."

This was not the end of it. Mahmoud was further surprised by private sector companies that exploit the situation. These companies sought to hire him and his peers as manual laborers or assistant workers in drilling operations. "These jobs are taken by individuals with intermediate certificates (technical diplomas)."

After offering his diploma for sale, Mahmoud was contacted by the manager of a company he had previously applied to, who asked him to work as an assistant laborer. In return, he was asked to post another announcement on Facebook claiming that his problem was solved and that an opportunity for employment was available, contrary to reality. After finding that his initial post did not yield any results, Mahmoud deleted it.

Bribes for job opportunities

Karim Abdel Karim, 24 years old and also a graduate of the same Petroleum and Mining Engineering department with a focus on exploration, was shocked when he learned about a colleague working in a major company who secured a job easily by paying a financial commission to an intermediary. "A large company announced its need for engineers in my field last June. A colleague of mine told me something that surprised me: 'These job postings are just for show. They've already selected the candidates by late April, and I'm one of them.' So I asked him how, and he said, 'I know someone inside the company. He informed me before they posted the announcement. The company will announce the openings after they've filled the required positions, paid the commission, and started working, just like you're seeing now.'"

This is when Karim realized why he hadn't secured a job offer from any of the 30 companies he applied to over the course of 18 months after his graduation.

"The security personnel would take my CV and dispose of it, since I didn't have any connections there. Once, a person who had connections within a hiring company asked me to pay 800,000 pounds as commission for me to get a job within the company"

Later, Karim received an offer from a job broker. The broker promised him a job opportunity with immediate employment the next day at one of the major petroleum and mining companies, in exchange for paying him one million pounds.

This individual, as described by Abdel Karim, holds extensive connections within these companies and beyond. He possesses a "portfolio" that has enabled him to employ individuals – individuals whom Karim himself knows – by offering substantial financial incentives.

Karim states, "This broker has no background in engineering; he is, in fact, a men's barber from the Dakahlia Governorate. However, his wide-ranging connections have turned him into a professional in this line of work. His primary profession as a barber provides him with a steady clientele, and during one of my visits to his shop, he overheard me discussing my struggle to secure a job in my field. With a brief phone call, he extended his offer."

The ordeal Karim faced led him to contemplate leaving the engineering field altogether. He had grown disheartened by his inability to secure a job commensurate with his education and achievements. He says, "Especially after receiving offers from multiple companies to work as a day laborer, washing sewage pipes and painting engineers' caravans."

Nabil achieved the highest grades and traversed hundreds of kilometers from his hometown despite his mobility impairment, all in pursuit of a dream that was shattered when the university council decided to exclude him due to his disability, despite the existence of laws that prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities

Even excellence fails to shield people with disabilities

Amr Nabil, hailing from Fayoum Governorate, managed to graduate with distinction from the Political Science department at the Faculty of Commerce, Helwan University, securing the top rank in his batch.

Nabil achieved the highest grades and traversed hundreds of kilometers from his hometown in Fayoum to Helwan despite his mobility impairment (having lost both his legs in an earlier accident). He endured years of hardship and isolation, all in pursuit of a dream that was shattered when the university council decided to exclude him due to his disability. This happened despite the existence of laws that prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in all fields, including employment that doesn't hinder their physical capabilities.

The rejection took a toll on his mental well-being and led to a period of speechlessness. Especially unsettling was the university council's attempt to circumvent the situation by offering him an administrative position, causing the young man to lose the dream he had pursued throughout his years and to feel his disability for the first time, as he confided to Raseef22.

Nonetheless, Amr Nabil continued to challenge these unjust decisions. Since October 2021, he has filed multiple official complaints with the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Higher Education, urging a reconsideration of his exclusion based on regulations and laws. His documentation included endorsements from his department's professors who signed his petition for reinstatement as a "fully qualified" teaching assistant. Simultaneously, he persisted in his academic journey, achieving a Master's degree during the same period.



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