By Ed Attwood
Prominent firms stump up support for new youth unemployment target for WEF’s Regional Business Council
Some of the region’s most prominent private-sector companies have agreed to provide ‘skilling’ opportunities to thousands of young people as part of wider plans set up by the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Regional Business Council (RBC) to fill the talent gap in the Middle East.
The RBC’s latest initiative is to provide training opportunities for 100,000 young people across the region by 2017. Half of the Middle East and North Africa’s youth population is under the age of 25, and the region has the world’s highest youth unemployment rate.
Nearly half of the RBC’s target has already been met. A series of firms, including Saudi Arabia’s Abdul Latif Jameel and Olayan Financing Company, Kuwait’s Alghanim Industries and Zain Group, and the UAE’s Crescent Petroleum, Crescent Enterprises and Jumeirah Group, collectively agreeing to provide opportunities for 49,000 young people.
“I am extremely proud to say that we have already been able to get halfway to the commitments needed to train people for job readiness in the region by 2017,” said Omar Kutayba Alghanim, CEO of Alghanim Industries and chairman of the Regional Business Council.
“We have made a strong start, but it is only a start. If we are going to fundamentally tackle the employment challenge in the region, it will require wider public-private collaboration across the MENA region”.
The WEF’s Human Capital Report, released last week, showed that regional countries performed poorly by comparison to their global peers. The index ranked each nation on “education levels of the employed, unemployed and the inactive members of the population as well as the specific qualifications of the latest entrants to the workforce”.
The highest-ranked Arab country – out of 124 in total – was the UAE, in 54th place. It was followed by Qatar (56th), Jordan (76th), Egypt (84th) and Saudi Arabia (85th).
Finland, Norway and Switzerland topped the overall ranking, while Yemen, Chad and Mauritania propped up the bottom.