With the world’s highest youth unemployment rate the Middle East and North Africa region has fallen under the spotlight amid claims that it is not equipping young people with skills for the 21st century.
More than half the population of the MENA region is under 25-years-old, business leaders say they are unable to find suitable candidates to fill the positions.
Now business leaders in the MENA region have committed to making to making 100,000 young people job by 2017.
“Massive unemployment coupled with talent gaps is a pattern that is particularly acute in this region,” said Saadia Zahidi, Head of the Employment, Skills and Human Capital Global Challenge Initiative at the World Economic Forum on Friday.
She added: “And labour-market disruptions will only get worse as technology changes business models and skills requirements. The pilot initiative tackles today’s challenges while anticipating future trends and solutions, and aims to be a model to be used across the region.”
The Human Capital Index 2015, released last week by the World Economic Forum, has revealed a gap between education systems and labor markets which creates shortfalls in the development of people’s skillsets.
According to the report released by the World Economic Forum “the region has optimized only 60 percent of its human-capital potential, ahead of sub-Saharan Africa but behind all other regions.”
Under the banner of its New Vision for Arab Employment Initiative, the forum on Friday launched the new phase which aims to invest in the continuous learning, training and job-readiness of the region’s youth.
The statement went on to explain that this would be achieved “through collaborations between businesses and with education institutions, civil society and governments, to help education systems keep up with the needs of the labor market.”
While there has been efforts for job creation in the region, Badr Jafar, CEO of Crescent Enterprises, said, this alone would not solve the wider problem.
He explained: “Creating new jobs alone cannot address our regional crisis of youth unemployment and underemployment. Equally important is the need to enhance the employability of our youth by equipping them with relevant skills to fill that vital gap, as well as empower them with a spirit of entrepreneurship.”
There are nine partners that have committed to closing the skills gap that has left so many young people apparently unable to fill the jobs, including: Abdul Latif Jameel, Alghanim Industries, Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), Crescent Enterprises, Crescent Petroleum, Jumeirah Group, Olayan Financing Company, VPS Healthcare and Zain Group.
These nine organizations alone have committed to offering training opportunities to 49,000 young people - or half the target.
“I am extremely proud to say that we have already been able to get halfway to the commitments needed to train people for job readiness in the region by 2017,” said Omar Kutayba Alghanim, Chairman of the Regional Business Council.
“We have made a strong start, but it is only a start. If we are going to fundamentally tackle the employment challenge in the region, it will require wider public-private collaboration across the MENA region.”
Under the scheme there will an ongoing monitoring of the situation and regions needs to ensure that the relevant needs are being taught to those who undergo training.