Monday 18 March 2013
Last Update 22 March 2013 3:25 pm
Youth unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) has reached 24 percent, according to a report.
The solution for this alarming number has to be found increasingly in the cities, said Miroslav Dusek, director, head of Middle East and North Africa at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
Dusek was speaking with three businessmen and a public official about Arab employment — and Saudi youth unemployment in particular — during the first day of the Jeddah Economic Forum yesterday.
Commending on the efforts carried out by the Ministry of Labor to reduce unemployment rates in the Kingdom, Mohammed Alshaya, executive chairman of the Alshaya Group, Kuwait, said the government is not the sole agent responsible for generating jobs.
He cited examples from the US, where children are taught from a young age to develop entrepreneurial skills and their work ethics that will benefit them throughout their career, including respecting time and the work environment.
Ayman Maamoun Tamer, chairman and managing partner of the Tamer Group, said the unemployment rate is of concern to both the private and public sector, and the two need to join hands to tackle the issue together. He said one of the main problems is the mismatch between market needs and the competency of Saudi graduates. “The private sector needs to lead in providing support and training. Retention grades increase enormously when employees have training,” he observed.
However, the most important change needed, Tamer said, is reforming the legal system, enabling part-time jobs and more flexible work conditions, as well as allowing expatriates in the country on a seasonal basis.
He referred to the situation in France, where fresh graduates can be easily hired for a year, after which they can be offered a permanent contract if their performance is satisfactory.
Another proposed solution is to create a support system that empowers entrepreneurship, as the number of creative professionals in Saudi Arabia is enormous. They simply require ignition, the panel speakers agreed, stressing that although unemployment is a global issue, the solutions and regulations should be customized to local needs.