Middle East and North Africa: Tackling the World’s Highest Youth Unemployment Rates |


The joint statement by the United Nations Employment Agency, the ILO, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children (UNICEF) was published before a two day meeting in Amman, Jordan, aimed at facilitating the transition of young people from learning to work, a key priority for adolescents and young people in the vast, predominantly Arab region.

Exchange best practices

The high-level regional meeting on Learning, skills, inclusion and youth work, takes place over two days, bringing together government officials from key sectors, the private sector and the UN, in dialogue with young people themselves to enable an exchange of good practices.

“Current education systems and programs do not correspond to the evolution of the labor market and the changing nature of work. They are not providing young people with enough skills, essential for success in today’s economy,” said the statement mentioned.

Skills such as communication, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving and cooperation are lacking in the skills of many young people.

According to the agencies,healthy, skilled and educated adolescents and youth can drive positive change towards a world fit for them that promotes and protects their rights”.

Inequalities and vulnerable contexts

Young people continue to face a host of challenges in the region – especially those living in poverty or in rural areas; refugees, displaced persons, migrants, girls and young women; and people with disabilities; who are more likely to be out of school and left behind.

According to UN data, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the region already had more than 14 million out-of-school children and one of the lowest rates of return to education in the world. Furthermore, the pandemic has deepened the education crisis and deepened existing inequalities.

Potential for unemployment cascades

Youth unemployment in these countries is almost twice the global average and has grown 2.5 times faster than the global average between 2010 and 2021.

These figures represent a significant drain on the economic potential of the region. Reduce the overall unemployment rate to 5% and be able to absorb the large number of young people entering the labor market and stabilize youth unemployment, the region must create more than 33.3 million new jobs by 2030.

Around the world, the recovery in the global jobs market is also reversing, the ILO said on Monday, blaming COVID and “other multiple crises” that have increased inequalities within and between the countries.

According to its latest update on the world of work, there are 112 million fewer full-time jobs today than before the pandemic.

Expected results

The regional meeting aims to discuss ways to strengthen the links between learning and the labor market.

These include improving education systems – including qualifying and technical and vocational education and training – strengthening the links between learning and the labor market; improve policies and explore opportunities with the private sector to create jobs and support youth entrepreneurship.

“Young people need life skills education to help them explore and nurture positive values ​​about their health, rights, families, relationships, gender roles and equality, and to empower them shape their lives and make informed decisions about their reproductive lives,” the agencies said. .

The event will provide recommendations from the Arab States/Middle East and North Africa Region to the next United Nations Secretary-General’s Global Summit on Education Transformation in September 2022.


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