Prepare Now for the New Wave
of Job Seekers, Report Warns

Jacob Thomas And Bruce Stanley
Filed on May 16, 2009

DUBAI — In spite of the oil boom and rapid economic growth, educational and employment problems persist in the Middle East, and a new report warns that job prospects for the region’s youth may suffer due to the economic downturn.

Nearly a quarter of all young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed in the Middle East, compared to a world average of 14 per cent. Meanwhile, the economic crisis has hit when a hefty 32 per cent of the region’s population is between the ages of 15 and 29.

As a result, new job seekers will put pressure on local labour markets for many years to come.

That’s the sobering message of a report issued by the Middle East Youth Initiative, a joint project of the Dubai School of Government and the Wolfensohn Centre for Development at the Brookings Institution in the US — Missed by the Boom, Hurt by the Bust: Making Markets Work for Young People in the Middle East.

“The Middle East is facing a new economic reality, and young people risk bearing the brunt of this downturn. When societies fail to create hope and prosperity for their young, they place their future development in jeopardy,” says James Wolfensohn, former president of the World Bank and founder of the Wolfensohn Centre for Development at Brookings.

Current economic instability may tempt governments to boost public sector employment, but such steps can deny youths the skills they need to compete in globalising world, the report adds.

It recommends that governments reform public sector hiring practices and increase the value of informal jobs – which serve as a refuge for an increasing number of young people – by investing in training.

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