Jordan’s labor market for educated youth is characterized by high levels of unemployment, long periods between youth graduating and beginning work, and firms complaining that youth often lack the appropriate interpersonal and work skills for the job. Search and matching theory offers a potential explanation: if education systems are such that graduates find it difficult to signal competence and achievement through grades and the quality of their institution, then employers might have difficult matching with suitable candidates, resulting in high unemployment. We developed and tested a labor market screening and matching service in Amman, Jordan, which aimed to generate higher employment for educated youth by reducing these matching frictions. This paper examines the first step in this process which involved testing unemployed, tertiary-educated, youth on mental ability, English proficiency, soft skills, Excel ability, and also measuring their big five personality traits. We show that these measures have predictive power for subsequent employment and for earnings conditional on employment, even after conditioning on major, university, and other controls that might be easily observed from a curriculum vitae. This is particularly the case for females, who have lower employment than males on average. Psychometric testing therefore offers the potential to reduce information asymmetries that result in labor market matching frictions.
Groh, M.; McKenzie, D.; Vishwanath, T. Reducing Information Asymmetries in the Youth Labor Market of Jordan with Psychometrics and Skill Based Tests. (2014) 16 pp.