Unemployed Arab youths are demanding more jobs that do not require intermediaries or connections, known as ‘Wasta’, according to a UN report which revealed that the Arab world has the highest level of youth unemployment globally.
A report from the UN and International Labour Organisation (ILO) revealed Arab youth unemployment is the highest globally at 23.2 percent, compared to a world average of 13.9 percent.
“The recent uprisings against various Arab governments have exposed a lack of social protection and dialogue between citizens and authorities,” the report said.
“The real issue is the need for jobs with social dignity rather than jobs that come at the expense of dignity,” said Mohammad Pournik, Poverty Practice Leader at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Centre in Cairo, Egypt, who said one of the demands of Arab youth is having jobs without the need for intermediaries or connection, known as 'wasta'.
The private sector has remained among the least competitive globally due to low rates of investment, a poor regulatory environment, and widespread nepotism and corruption, the report added.
Entitled 'Rethinking Economic Growth: Towards Inclusive and Productive Arab Societies', the UNDP report also highlighted the fact the region had the lowest productivity growth rate of any world region between 2000 and 2010 except Latin America, with 1.5 percent for North Africa and 1.2 percent for the Middle East against a world average of 1.8 percent.
“In 2010, Arabs were more likely to find work than they were two decades ago,” said the lead author of the report, Zafiris Tzannatos. “But the question is what type of work? Workers were increasingly educated but the jobs being created were low-skilled and low-paid. In most countries, workers could not make their voices heard through trade unions or the ballot box.”
The report recommended that governments in the region introduce macroeconomic policies aimed at improving productivity and increasing average wages and more increased social dialogue between governments, workers, and employers.
“Arabs need an inclusive development model that is grounded in social justice,” said the ILO’s Regional Director for the Arab States, Nada al-Nashif.