RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Some 2,000 jobless Moroccans marched through the capital Sunday, demanding the government sort out the nation's unemployment by giving them jobs in public sector.
Like the rest of North Africa, youth unemployment, especially among university graduates, is a persistent social woe that successive governments have been unable to tackle.
Though the official unemployment rate is only 9 percent in this North African country, it is nearly double for university graduates, and 30 percent for those under 34.
For the past several years, there have been nearly daily protests in the capital by groups of unemployed university graduates asking for public sector jobs.
"The solution for unemployment is to create government jobs, especially for those with university degrees," said Jawad Karoom, who graduated with a degree in nuclear physics in 2012.
Most of the marchers, who came from all across the country, dismissed the idea of getting a job in the private sector.
"The private sector is not well organized and there are no guarantees for wages or good benefits — the public sector guarantees dignity," said Youssef Ben Ibrahim, who holds a Master's degree in French literature and has been unemployed since his graduation two years ago.
Past governments have appeased the unemployed graduates by handing out a certain number of government jobs every year, but the Islamist-led government currently in power said government bureaucracy was swollen with useless jobs and the practice is over.
Protesters also denounced the government practice of insisting on exams to determine the skill level of job applicants.
The government has been under increasing pressure over a faltering economy and efforts to cut expensive fuel subsidies.
Moroccan university education, which is free, has also been criticized for not preparing graduates for the job market.