Since 2005, Deloitte has been working with INJAZ al-Arab (INJAZ), a non-profit organization that aims to promote youth education and training in the Middle East North Africa region, to support innovation and entrepreneurship among Arab youth. As part of its objectives, INJAZ and its partners have recently launched Expand Your Horizon (EYH), an initiative aimed to encourage Arab youth to realize their potential through a career in the private sector. One of EYH’s key objectives is to encourage Arab youth to consider career paths in non-traditional industries by building awareness of the skills required to gain employment in these industries.

As such, Deloitte partnered with EYH to develop a research study aimed at identifying employment opportunities for Arab youth in in the hospitality, technology and media industries. The key findings of that study were presented at a media launch event attended by representatives from INJAZ, EYH,, MBC Group, General Electric and Marriott Hotels. What follows are the key findings of that study.

I have had the opportunity to lead a team of consultants from Deloitte who deployed great efforts in putting together the research in less than two months. The team was passionate about the research particularly because of its topic that touches upon issues that are dear to the heart of Arab youth. In fact, each one of us either feels concerned or knows someone who is seeking a job or is feeling underemployed or is facing challenges in finding his or her dream jobs in times of economic and political turmoil across the region.

Arab youth in the MENA region still prefer to work in traditional industries rather than in non-traditional and high-growth industries such as the hospitality, technology and media industries. This is mainly due to three main reasons. The first is that those industries require specialized skills that most Arab youth do not properly master. These include operations management in the hospitality industry, software development and cloud computing the technology industry, and internet publishing in the media industry. The second is the lack of critical information presented to youth about the range of opportunities available in these high-growth and non-traditional industries. Finally, the third is the political and economic instability of the region that negatively affects job openings.

Addressing Arab youth employment challenges require a joint effort across key stakeholders. Governments should provide the overall education strategy and quality standards to verify that Arab youth are equipped with the required skills. Civil Society and media should provide the required support to Arab youth to sustain changes. Industry organizations in the hospitality, technology and media industries should be proactive in promoting careers and required skills to Arab youth. Arab youth should be proactive in developing their skills to match those of their desired career path, increasing their employment chances.

While unemployment amongst youth is one of the most significant internal economic challenges facing the MENA region today, it is also one of the region’s biggest opportunities for future development and progress, and is definitely a trend to watch as we consider the economic, social, and political stability of the region as a whole. MENA countries must rethink their respective educational systems, value the potential of their young people, and implement equal opportunity employment schemes in the private and public sectors. In the end, young talents are the future of every country and it is an obligation to offer proper working opportunities to every citizen and address this situation seriously as it is a striking issue affecting every MENA country.

The impact the research will have is extremely motivating for the Deloitte research team. In fact, it is highly rewarding to see that the findings of the research are quoted all over social networks, public announcements on leading Arab TV stations, and most importantly EYH’s microsite whereby thousands of Arab youth and regional employers will be able to meet to match their needs with high hopes of success.

by: Joana Abou Jaoude, Senior Manager, Consulting, Deloitte, Middle East

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