In a challenging economy, more Kurdistan Region graduates make ends meet as farm laborers
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – In a beleaguered local economy in which employment opportunities in her chosen field of mechanical engineering are hard to come by, Soma Saeed is working in a different field; as a harvester at one of the Kurdistan Region's pepper farms.
Waking up at dawn, Saaed and her friends take a two-hour commute from Khurmal subdistrict in Halabja province northward across mountainous terrain to Penjwen. From then, she picks peppers until four in the afternoon.
Those who work in the field with higher education degrees are common these days, especially given the model of higher education in the Kurdistan Region where part of a graduate's training can include working pro-bono for a portion of one's day or week when they're still young and haven't amassed any savings.
“It is very normal for me to work as a laborer in this field,” the 26-year-old said, adding that she has fellow graduates who work for hours in a governmental office as part of their required hours of volunteering with no pay.
“I will get paid here right after I’m done,” she said, advising those who are still unemployed to find any job – even if it is underpaid – to get money to live on and gain work experience.
Penjwen and Sharazur districts are well-known for their fertile farmland that produces tons of fruits and vegetables annually, supplying not only cities and towns in the autonomous Kurdistan Region, but also those across central and southern Iraq.
As she works, Saeed dreams of funding a small enterprise of her own in the future as part of plans to work toward a project that will provide much-needed local job opportunities for unemployed Kurdistan Region residents like her.
Additional reporting conducted by Aveen Atta