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Virtual Library File - Addressing the 100 Million Youth Challenge - Perspectives on Youth Employment in the Arab World in 2012

The Challenge

Major international economic development organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations agree that entrepreneurial success and the establishment of Sma ...

Major international economic development organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations agree that entrepreneurial success and the establishment of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the developing world could alleviate many of the world’s social and economic problems. In a global economic environment characterized by lower growth and high levels of unemployment/under-employment, entrepreneurs are perceived as critical generators for jobs and innovations.

Addressing the 100 Million Youth Challenge - Perspectives on Youth Employment in the Arab World in 2012 is being released at a moment when all countries across the Arab world, from the transition countries of North Africa to the Gulf Cooperation Council states, face the same economic mandate: support growth and create jobs. Job creation, a perennial challenge for the region is compounded by the region’s demographics, whereby 100 million youth between 15 and 29 years old representing 30% of the region’s, total population 2 are in dire need of an economic future which will support the conditions for human development, as well as vibrant and inclusive political life and social cohesion in the coming decades.

Persistent and sticky unemployment has become the most significant economic and political issue faced by leaders across large regions of the world, from Europe to Central Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa. At the global level, unemployment is a manifestation of structural challenges: there is an increasing gap between education, skills and jobs; the global population is rising and we are witnessing increased protectionism; economic growth is out of balance at the global level, while policy-makers are urgently seeking plans to re-balance economies at the national level. These factors are impairing growth and hence job creation.

Though addressing the job creation imperative remains a global and cross-regional issue, there are challenges specific to the Arab world, which today demand innovative thinking and responses framed within the reality of the new regional context.

This publication is a direct response to this unique situation in the Arab world and concretely to the renewed urgency in addressing the youth unemployment challenge in the wake of the Arab spring to sustain the early gains from the transitions and ensure long-term positive outcomes overall. Emphasis has been put on surfacing novel thought leadership, global best practice, and counsel, which are actionable for decision-makers across the region.

The essays in this publication cover the following topics: social innovation and new approaches to the employment challenge, determinants and challenges of the current youth unemployment situation, female economic empowerment, building Arab civil society to promote economic growth, access to credit, the economic agendas of Arab Islamist parties, education for employment, a paradigm shift in government – from creating jobs to enabling job creation, and recent case studies from Tunisia and Iraq.

This publication is a great culmination of the work of the 2011- 2012 Global Agenda Council on the Arab World, a unique group of intellectuals and practitioners committed to improving the state of the region. It follows the earlier Compendium on Economic Governance in the Arab World and feeds into the World Economic Forum’s ongoing regional activities related to the role of large employers in job creation.

The World Economic Forum has been playing a unique role in shaping economic policy in the region, particularly through its Arab World Competitiveness Report and I am delighted that we can further build on this great tradition with this publication.

Addressing the 100 Million Youth Challenge - Perspectives on Youth Employment in the Arab World in 2012 was compiled under my leadership and edited by Miroslav Dusek, Director and Head of the Middle East and North Africa; and Matthew Miller, Global Leadership Fellow and Associate Director, Middle East and North Africa. I would also like to thank all of the members of the Global Agenda Council on the Arab World and, in particular, the Council Chair Tarik Yousef, Chief Executive Officer, Silatech, Qatar, for their thoughtful contribution to this edition.

The ideas expressed in these essays represent the views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the World Economic Forum.