World Bank: 85 million additional jobs for youth, required in the MENA region by 2023.
‘Youth Unemployment’ in MENA region, highest in the world.
‘Female Youth Unemployment’ averages 40 percent within MENA.
Recent statistics released by the World Bank reveal the youth unemployment rates across the MENA region are the highest in the world. On average over 25 percent of the region’s youth are currently unemployed, and that statistic is expected to exceed 30 percent within 5 years. The youth unemployment rate already exceeds 50 percent in some MENA countries.
The World Bank further states that in the attempt to reach the global average unemployment and participation rates, 85 million additional jobs will be required in the region, over the next 10 years.
Addressing the similar issue, figures released by the International Labour Organisation state that 40 percent of the region’s youth are inactive (not participating in any employment, education or training).
The topic of Youth Unemployment was discussed at the recent World Economic Forum Middle East Summit:
Majid Jafar; “What used to be a chronic problem that we have been talking about for the past decade has now become an acute crisis. The political instability in many parts of the region over the past two years has actually worsened the employment situation for millions of young people across the region, but many new governments have failed to address the single most important demand for young people according to opinion polls, which is a well-paying job. Failure to employ our youth doesn’t just mean lower economic growth today; it threatens our tomorrow as well.” — Majid Jafar, Chief Executive Officer of Crescent Petroleum, and Vice-Chairman of the Crescent Group, and Vice-Chairman of the Global Agenda Council for Youth Unemployment at the World Economic Forum
Quoting substantial reasons for the high rates of unemployment, Jafar continued;
Majid Jafar; “Low growth, rigid labour markets and a mismatch between education and skills required by the workplace are deep-rooted causes of youth unemployment in many regional economies. Everyone agrees that extremism and instability are the common enemy, and the youth unemployment crisis is a major driver of that.”
The Summit also addressed the issue of low female participation in the workforce across the MENA region. Female youth unemployment is over 40 percent (on average) within the region.
Majid Jafar; “A recent World Bank report shows there has been some improvement in female participation levels in the workforce of our region, but it has been very slow, and it would take 150 years for the region to catch up with global averages. This is a fundamental economic and social issue. If we are not educating and enabling proper participation of our female population, we are cursing the education of our next generation. They are the mothers and we will not be able to tackle birth rates, which are the main driver behind the ‘youth-quake’ facing the region. We’re stunting our future growth. This is a wake-up call, and while increasing female participation starts culturally, it is also a policy issue.”
Proposing a solution to the problem at hand, it was agreed-upon that regional cooperation focusing on major infrastructure investments could lead to rapid job creation in large numbers. According to the World Bank, investing USD 1 billion on infrastructure could create 100,000 jobs, particularly in oil-importing countries. Infrastructure sectors that can yield benefits from such a goal-oriented investment include transportation, energy, telecoms, health and education.
Validating the proposition;
Majid Jafar; “Though some countries like the UAE have developed advanced infrastructure which enhances long-term competitiveness, the region as a whole is below where we should be in terms of infrastructure spending according to international norms. Only five per cent of government spending in this region goes on infrastructure, compared to over 15 per cent in China. Infrastructure spending in China is the biggest driver behind that country’s economic growth and its government invests continuously regardless of what happens with the global economy.”