Jordanian Queen Rania raises unemployment issue at World Economic Forum
Queen Rania today took to the stage at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Jordan to call for urgent action on unemployment in the Arab World, saying a “regional renaissance” is required to improve job prospects.
The youth unemployment problem in the Middle East and North Africa is the worst in the world, with a rate of 28.3 percent, according to the WEF. An estimated 100 million new jobs are required in the region by 2020.
“Millions of people need millions of jobs… Generally, the people with the best education can't find the jobs they want, and the people with the least education find most jobs, albeit the low-quality ones,” she said.
“A new vision for Arab employment requires a regional renaissance… It can't be done without political will, and that doesn't just come from the top. It starts with governments and the private sector forming closer ties.”
Queen Rania acknowledged that the jobs crisis it was an old problem – but said solving unemployment no less of a priority because of that.
"When it comes to the topic of employment in the Arab world, we've been saying the same things, pointing out the same facts... for years and years and years."
While the situation has not improved, conditions may have worsened amid increasing poverty in the Middle East and North Africa, Queen Rania said.
“We've witnessed frustrations boil over as young people grow disillusioned,” she said.
Improving education is key to boosting employment prospects in the region, Queen Rania said.
“Isn't it ironic how most of us in the Arab world want to carry the latest phones, own the trendiest gadgets, stay ahead of the curve on social-media networks, while our schools and what we learn in them lag conspicuously behind… There can be no excuses any more. We must do better - our children deserve it.”
By Ben Flanagan