Youth Unemployment &
Employability in MENA
Region, with Special
Reference to Saudi Arabia
Dr. Mohamed Hamid Abdallah
1. Unemployment in the World is
at all times high.
2. Due to the International Financial
Crisis which surprised the World
in the later months of 2008, this
unempolyment reminded the
people with the unemployment
rates during the Great
3. Half of the World unemployed
people are under the age of 24
years, although they represent
25% of the World population.
4. Youth unemployment in the
MENA Region is the highest in the
5. In Saudi Arabia, youth
unemployment in increasing and
at the same time, foreign
expatriates are also increasing.
This raises the question of youth
employability in this country.
The main Objective of this paper is to study youth
unemployment and employability in MENA
Region and Saudi Arabia, and to suggest
relevant solutions to reduce youth
unemployment and increase their employability.
The detailed objectives are to study the
The nature of the current unemployment among
youth in MENA Region in general and in Saudi
Arabia in particular.
– Employability of youth in MENA Region and in Saudi
– Evaluation of the implemented solutions in Saudi
– Experiences of other countries and how can they be
useful in this Region and in Saudi Arabia?
– Results and recommended solutions.
Reasons for Youth Unemployment
in the MENA Region
The nature of youth unemployment in this
region is mostly structural, especially among
university graduates. Meaning that their
specializations do not match the available
jobs requirements (Supply of labour do not
match the demand for labour).
The high rates of population growth in this
region in the face of slow economic growth.
Meaning that the economics of the MENA
Region countries can hardly create enough
jobs to coupe with their higher than the world
average rates of population growth
The increasing rates of female
participation in the labour markets of
could be due to the unemployed
person because he doesn't meet the
job requirement and duties, or due to
the employer who offer a lower salary
and benefits than can be accepted by
the potential employee.
Evaluation of the
All MENA countries tried and still trying
to solve this problem, which is the
most important problem facing them
currently, using different means and
policies, but in vain.
For example, Saudi Arabia
implemented the following solutions:
– Saudization, especially the private sector
jobs because 86% of its employees are
– Saudi Universities tried to make their
graduates qualifications match the labour
– Training and retraining programs and
courses in and outside the country.
– Subsidizing the private sector salaries.
– Financing programs to encourage
unemployed youth to invest in small and
medium enterprises (SMEs).
– Opening new types of jobs for females.
Experiences of other Countries
The most popular experiences in
youth employment are the
German and Canadian ones.
The German Experience:
– Target groups are: deprived children,
addicts, disabled, school drop outs
and new migrants.
– Programs: Vocational preparation,
Vocational support programs and
Joint companies training programs.
The Canadian Experiences:
– Target groups are: all of those facing
employment barriers such as: single
parents Aboriginals youth, disables, recent
immigrants, rural youth newly relocating in
urban areas and high school drop outs.
– Programs: career focus, skills link and
summer work experiences programs.
– A complementary awareness program
appreviated as YES is established to
respond to specific labour requirements
and adjustment over time. It addresses
employers, employees and community
Comparison Between the
German & Canadian Experiences
The target groups are almost similar.
The German programs are most active and
have specific objectives.
The Canadian programs are more general
and based upon providing guidance and
The German programs are more successful
in meeting their objectives but they cost
more money than the Canadian ones.
MENA countries can make use of both these
experiences, by adopting their strengths
and avoiding their weaknesses.
1. Youth unemployment is a world wide
2. It is at all times high.
3. MENA Region countries have the highest
4. Although the private sector is employing
86% of the 8.4 million employees,
unemployment among Saudi Youth is
5. Unemployment is the highest in this region
in the non-oil producing MENA countries
compared to oil-rich MENA countries
1. Improve the Microeconomic imbalances in this
region by appropriate labour policies.
2. Make use of the strengths of the German and
Canadian experiences and avoid their weaknesses.
3. Saudi Arabia and other oil rich Arab countries
should do their best to reduce their dependence on
4. Increase the employability and productivity of
youth in this region co-operative education,
continuous education, training and retraining will
5. Finance employed youth small and medium
enterprise and nurse them till they stand on their
ًأال ليت الشباب يعود يوما
فأخبره بما فعل المشيب
I hope youth will come back
To tell him what the elderly age had
done to me
وبركاتهالسالم عليكم ورحمة اهلل
وشكرا لحسن إصغائكم