MENA Youth Unemployment Rate Highest Worldwide



Over 30% of the youth in MENA region is unemployed. In addition, more than 40% of the young people are not active. This means, that in order the problem to be tackled, around 85 million new job positions need to be opened over the next decade. In addition, young generations must be stimulated to take interest in jobs and employment, in general.

Although the problem with the high youth unemployment is a general trend in the world today, MENA’s rates are the most worrying ones. Over 30% of the young people in the Middle East North Africa region are without a job. Moreover, this figure is constantly increasing. As a result, youth unemployment levels in the region may surpass 40% in the next five years. What is even more disturbing is the fact that in some MENA countries the number of unemployed young people is over 50%.

The World Bank has estimated that around 85 million jobs are required to reverse that trend. However, even if that many positions are added over a period of 10 years, the country will only reach the average rate for unemployment in the world. In addition, another 40 of the MENA youth are inactive. In other words, they neither work nor study.

According to Majid Jafar, Crescent Group’s Vice President and Crescent Petroleum’s CEO, the region’s efforts to fight with the problem are insufficient. Moreover, Jafar refers to the issue as a crisis and he blames MENA governments for the situation. He believes that countries in the region do not provide young people with enough well-paid job opportunities.

Majid Jafar also states that high youth unemployment rates are not only threatening today’s economic growth, but they will also be reflected in the future. Quoted by a Dubai-based publication, Jafar lists some of the main reasons behind the problem. They include mismatch between workplace skills and education, the static labour markets, as well as the low growth levels and civil unrest. Lack of stimuli other than financial gains is also important.

Nevertheless, the CEO is confident that reforms in MENA’s education systems and labour markets, as well as more investments in the region’s infrastructure can help improve youth employment levels. Jafar points that annual infrastructure investments amounting between $75 and $100 billion, can help increase the speed of job creation in MENA.

MENA youth unemployment is higher among women – more than 40%. Jafar states that countries in the region should encourage and stimulate more female participation in education and employment, if they want to reduce youth unemployment in the future.


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