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Education for Employment: Realizing Arab Youth Potential

Svava Bjarnason's picture

The headlines are sobering:
• The Arab World has 25% youth unemployment – the highest in the world – and female youth unemployment is even higher reaching over 30%
• The economic loss of youth unemployment costs US$40 to $50 billion annually – equivalent to the GDP of countries like Tunisia or Lebanon
• One third of the population in the region is below the age of 15 – a further third is aged 15 to 29.
• Two thirds of young people surveyed believe they do not have the skills required to get a good job

It is widely held that the revolutions taking place across the Middle East have been fuelled by a generation of youth who are over-educated or poorly-educated and unemployed.  Education for Employment (e4e) is an initiative that seeks to ‘realize Arab youth potential’ by providing education opportunities that focus on employability. The World Bank Group's International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Islamic Development Bank commissioned research for 22 countries across the Arab World with ‘deep dive’ research undertaken in 9 countries.  The report found that demand for e4e solutions is substantial and yet supply is nascent.  It also identified that critical enablers are missing, such as quality and standard setting, funding mechanisms, internship opportunities and information for young people on the value of different types of education.