Complex Made Simple

The unemploment of 25% of Arab youth needs to be addressed

The 2008 financial crisis widened the gap between youth and the labor market. While the world was busy innovating solutions, political conflicts and environmental crises have further aggravated the situation.  Newer mechanisms are required where youth can engage in the design and implementation of solutions, by integrating them into the international and local organizations who are responsible for deciding on development tools and goals.

Under the theme “Youth: crisis challenges and development opportunities”, Sharjah is hosting this year’s edition of IIFMENA on October 24th, organized by The Big Heart Foundation in partnership with the UNHCR, UNDP, UNICEF, NAMA Women Advancement Establishment and UN Women. The conference will bring together a large number of Arab youths to listen to decision makers and express their opinions and point of views regarding the design and implementation of the solutions, and how to ensure youth integration into society and the labor market.

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Key Challenges

The 2017 report of the UN Population Fund affirms that mass migrations caused by armed conflict and natural disasters greatly impede efforts to bridge the gap between market needs and the competent young manpower, creating a burden on societies, flooding them with low-skilled labor to the detriment of local cadres.

The report states that the Arab community suffers a wide gap between the requirements and needs of the labor market on one hand, and job competencies on the other. In the Arab world, unemployment rates are at 25% which is among the highest in the world, inevitably leading to USD 40-50 billion financial losses annually.

The report offers solutions to address vocational and technical training in sectors that lack human resources. Therefore, reducing the risk of excluding local labor and address the need for skilled and experienced cadres who can contribute to the growth of countries.

The report also recommends the development of a comprehensive system for quality assurance, work standards, curriculum development, teacher training, and communication with employers. This recommendation aims to create a balanced and healthy combination of specializations and general skills (theoretical and practical) to determine employability which takes into consideration the selection of competent people whilst building the capacity of low-competent ones.

The report highlights the need for establishing a body dedicated to providing information about the labor markets around the world and develop future economic plans to address potential market needs. The body will be also responsible for the development of the educational system that can cope with the rapid technological advances which creates more challenges in the global labor market.

In its 2017 report, the World Bank shared with the UN concerns about the gap between young people and the labor market due to natural disasters that account for up to $520 billion financial losses as well as over 26 million poor and unemployed people. As a result, there is an urgent need for activating risk management systems by international organizations working under the umbrella of the United Nations, the World Bank and their regional partners, including civil and semi-governmental organizations.

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the number of unemployed people worldwide has exceeded 200 million, up by 3.4 million compared to last year. The ILO’s “World Employment and Social Outlook 2017” report warned of the impact of a recession on small businesses. It noted that this impact on developing countries is worse, with more than half of the labor force working in small and medium-sized enterprises, a sector that offers up to 70% of all jobs opportunities in some Arab countries, and more than 50% in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

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Bigger Ambitions

Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of The Big Heart Foundation, the entity organizing “Investing in the Future Conference MENA region,” stressed that reports and studies published by the concerned international institutions highlight the growing global challenges, especially regarding youth skills and labor market requirements which have been negatively affected by political crises.

She said: “Given these challenges, we are confident that the hopes and aspirations of the world community is greater than ever, and with increasing awareness of the importance of developing consistent solutions and forging partnerships, we can innovate ways to implement them.”

Five pillars on youth engagement in solutions development process:

The ECOSOC Youth Forum highlighted five pillars to promote youth involvement in designing solutions to address crises and enable them to play an active role in the development process:

First: engage youth in discussions related to the environment, sustainability and rationalized consumption, to raise their awareness and encourage them to adopt responsible practices.

Second: Provide the necessary resources and facilitate access to modern technologies, to encourage young people to lead initiatives such as SMEs or collective projects that has social impact.

Third: Involve young people in the discussions held by the United Nations and international and civil organizations in their respective countries, on the issues of peace, social stability, equal opportunities and access to basic rights such as education and health services for all, at local and international levels.

Fourth: Youth should take part in the development of national strategies in their countries and have the right to participate in making decisions on substantial issues that are related to them.

Fifth: The establishment of international youth organizations that support the efforts of the local organizations with specific mechanisms for coordination with international decision-makers.

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