Middle East needs 100 million new jobs, but is it possible?

Published December 12th, 2012 - 06:39 GMT
100 million new jobs need to be created in the Middle East
100 million new jobs need to be created in the Middle East

The huge gap between the supply of qualified youth and the market requirements is one of the key reasons behind rising unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, experts at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) noted on Tuesday.

At 24 per cent, youth unemployment is the biggest challenge facing the region, with around 100 million jobs required to be created in the next few years and experts feel there is no quick fix to it.

Belaid Rettab, Economic Researcher and expert in the Sustainable Business Development Sector at Dubai Chamber, who was one of the panellists who discussed the issue of unemployment and possible solutions, said that a complete revision of education sector is the key.

“We need to make sure that the youth that are graduating from the universities have the right skill sets and qualifications to match the market demands. Otherwise, there is bound to be a high rate of unemployment. There should be a system of requalification and vocational training for the youth and students should be trained at the private sector just to give them an idea of what is required of them before they actually get a job,” said Rettab.

Though realigning the education system with the demands of the market is key, another key element in creating employment opportunities is encouraging entrepreneurship.

“Entrepreneurship is key to creating jobs, but for young entrepreneurs to flourish, we need to have a level-playing field and transparency in the private sector. There should also be a sound incentive system to encourage the youth to take up self-employment,” said Jean Fares, an advisor at the Prime Minister’s office in the UAE.

However, Zafiris Tzannatos, adviser at Social Development Sector of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, believes entrepreneurship is not the quick solution to creating 100 million jobs.

“Jobs can’t be created without economic development and growth. Economies in the region were doing good before 2010 but that wasn’t enough to create jobs, the situation is even worse now. We need to open up economies to generate growth and set up sustainable foreign investment models. Enhanced trade with other countries and greater participation in global market can generate jobs quickly,” said Tzannatos, who is former advisor at International Labour Organisation, UAE.

As suggested there is no single solution to unemployment, a combined package of revised education system, entrepreneurship and enhanced trade could be the recipe.

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