The future of youth in the Middle East is a fascinating topic of tremendous importance for the Middle East and also the world. The statistics are quite shocking.
Below a few notes from preparations for a workshop I am running at the World Economic Forum meeting in Jordan.
These are taken from an excellent recent report on the topic by Wolfensohn Center for Development: “Missed by the Boom, Hurt by the Bust: Making Markets Work for Young People in the Middle East.”
More than 25 percent of firms in the region reported the lack of skills among workers was a major constraint on business growth, representing a higher rate than in other regions such as Latin America and Africa.
- An increase in total unemployment by one percentage point reduces the employment rate of youth by 1.1 to 1.8 percentage points. In the Middle East, given the large youth population and labor market rigidities, the differential impact on young people could be even greater.
- As of 2007, the total unemployment rate in Jordan remained at 13 percent, and youth aged 15 to 29 comprised 73 percent of the unemployed. Between 2001 and 2007, 63 percent of new jobs created in Jordan were filled by foreign workers.
- By 2006, more than 70 percent of first-time job entrants in Egypt found employment in the informal sector. Only 11 percent of Egyptians who find their first jobs in the informal sector are able to secure formal second jobs later.
- In the United Arab Emirates, 81 percent of unemployed nationals are youth.
- In Syria, youth comprise 61 percent of the total unemployed population. Of all unemployed Syrians between 15 and 29 years old, 80 percent are interested in public sector jobs while 60 percent are seeking jobs exclusively in the public sector.