President Hassan Rouhani outlined his plans to shore up employment if he is reelected for another term, in an effort to push back against the fierce criticism of his economic record by his conservative rivals.
Speaking in an interview with state television on Saturday, Rouhani talked of a workforce training program aimed at ending the lingering scourge of joblessness that has left the electorate largely disappointed with his promise of economic recovery.
"A national apprenticeship initiative is scheduled to be put in place in the 11th month of the current Iranian year [Jan. 21, 2018-Feb. 20, 2018]. It is now being piloted in two provinces," the president said.
His challengers have made frequent references to his electoral pledges in 2013 to reinforce their criticism that with the end of Rouhani's first four-year term in sight, Iran's economy is still struggling with major challenges, including high unemployment and inflation, and ailing production and export sectors.
He underscored his plans to open up the domestic economy and attract foreign investment and technology in the face of fierce opposition from conservatives who fear such an opening might be exploited by hostile western governments.
Rouhani, however, insists that his government is determined to take that chance, arguing that it cannot afford to miss the opportunity for deepening reengagement with the international community in the absence of sanctions.
"If we are to boost employment, the first step is to spur investment so we can channel funds and financial resources to economic enterprises," he said.
"There is potential to attract $140 million in foreign investment which, if coupled with an increase in non-oil exports, can help tackle joblessness."
Iran emerged from years of sanctions under the 2015 nuclear accord with major powers in return for agreeing to limit the scope of its nuclear program.