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Thu 21 May 2015 04:52 PM

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Technology will be a “game changer” in tackling Arab youth unemployment

Abu Dhabi-backed report says success will only happen if gov’t and private sectors collaborate effectively

Technology will be a “game changer” in tackling Arab youth unemployment

Technology will
be a “game changer” in tackling youth unemployment in the Middle East and North
Africa’s emerging Digital Economy, but only if the government, private, and
people sectors collaborate effectively, according to a new report released ahead
of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) 2015, which
is being held in Jordan from Thursday, May 21.

The report
“Re-Dynamizing the Job Machine: Technology-Driven Transformation of Labor
Markets in MENA,” has been produced jointly by INSEAD Business School, the
Center for Economic Growth in Abu Dhabi, and SAP.

The report is
being launched on the evening at a high-level event attended by government
ministers, senior government officials, business leaders, and academics from
the region and worldwide.

With 40 million
under-unemployed youth and 27 million not in education, employment, or
training, the Middle East and North Africa has the highest rate of youth
unemployment in the world at 27.2 percent, according to the World Economic
Forum, presenting a serious problem for a region where more than half the 369
million inhabitants are under 25.

As Internet
penetration has jumped 294 percent in the region between 2007 and 2012,
technology has the potential to impact every aspect of labour markets,
including better matching of jobs across all sectors, facilitating up-skilling,
empowering entrepreneurs, and providing actionable data to decision-makers. The
Millennial generation of people aged under 25 are digitally connected as never
before, according to the report.

Demonstrating
the growing demand for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) jobs,
the Middle East’s ICT industry value is set to reach $173 billion in 2015, more
than double the value in 2010, and projected to create nearly 4.4 million jobs
by 2020, according to research firm Strategy&.

However,
enabling youth employment will require decision makers from government, the
private sector, academia, and civil society to collaborate on adapting academic
curricula to better integrate ICT learning, upskill students and workers with
ICT and e-business skills, and create an environment that encourages
entrepreneurship and small-business job creation, according to the report.

MENA companies
are increasingly generating ‘IT-intensive’ jobs that produce information or
knowledge for increasingly digitized business processes, across mobile
platforms, cloud-based services, analytics and citizen-centric applications –
all of which require new skills.

“New
information and communication technologies are indeed creating more jobs in the
ICT sector itself in the form of digital jobs and digital entrepreneurship.
Yet, these effects will be felt far beyond the sector: e-skills are now
required in all sectors,” said Bruno Lanvin, executive Director, INSEAD Global
Indices.

"By
combining data from INSEAD's three indices on talent, innovation, and network
readiness, the report was able to develop a framework for analyzing these three
critical components and assessing the impact of digitization on countries and
societies,” said Patricia McCall, Executive Director, Centre for Economic
Growth in Abu Dhabi.

“Governments in
the region have a critical role to play in leading national initiatives for
employment: putting in place policies; raising awareness and articulating a
clear strategy and messaging to enthuse communities; and finally providing an
ICT platform where all the stakeholders - especially youth - can connect,
massively collaborate and co-innovate to create the jobs of tomorrow,” said
Selim Edde, Vice President, Government Relations, SAP MENA.

“Big Data,
mobility, social media, youth centric applications, and actionable data will
have a transformational effect. The key component will be in the implementation
and execution on that vision and strategy,” added Edde.

Click here for all the stories from our coverage of the World Economic Forum, MENA, in Jordan