Anticipating Skills: The Pioneering Role of the Mediterranean Region
The southern Mediterranean region is known to have a high level of youth disengagement and one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world. To face this challenge and to avoid a supply-and-demand mismatch, NET-MED Youth has been working in Algeria, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia to predict the skills that youth need for the job market of the future.
“The issue of youth and employment is particularly acute in the MENA region because of the demography structure and the labor markets,” says David Atchoarena, Director of the Policies and Lifelong Learning Division at UNESCO. “By 2030 the population number will be over 200 million, which illustrates the magnitude of the challenge and the need to develop appropriate tools and policies to better guide education, training policies and forecasting methodologies.”
62 participants are meeting on October 23-24 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris for a two-day seminar to share findings of their skills forecasting work, with special focus on youth employment.
The seminar, Regional Skills Forecasting in the South Mediterranean Region, presents the results of NET-MED Youth forecasting work and provides a platform for participants to discuss and exchange national and international experiences. Participants will be able to identify the areas that need further strengthening and promotion.
In the area of employment, NET-MED Youth works with youth organizations, experts and decision-makers to reinforce the relevance of education and training systems so as to promote youth employment and enhance their skills. The project is multidisciplinary and strengthens national skills forecasting systems, empowers youth capacities so they can be part of policy dialogue and planning, and supports youth-led national awareness campaigns on youth skills needs.
“The work that we are going to do today is very important,” says Nada Al-Nashif, Assistant-Director General for UNESCO’s Social and Human Sciences Sector. “It takes place in the context of a flagship project, NET-MED Youth, and it is based on the multidisciplinary expertise of UNESCO to work both on different but very complementary areas – youth policies, democracy, media, freedom of expression, education and employment – and on identity and intercultural dialogue. Many parts of UNESCO come together.”
Findings from the Skills Forecasting Synthesis Report
Robert Wilson, expert researcher at the Warwick Institute for Employment Research, presented an overview of the Skills Forecasting Synthesis Report, which builds on the work conducted since 2014 in 7 NET-MED Youth countries.
Among many issues, the report covered a critical review of the work led to develop a skills forecasting model in the 7 NET-MED Youth beneficiary countries, with a global perspective on best practices across the world. The report also highlighted an assessment of key findings, and how this work positions the Mediterranean area as an innovative region in terms of skills anticipation work.
“Our indicator of success is not how many people we train but rather how many people we employ,” says Heba Alatshan, a representative for the youth organization Education for Employment, member of NET-MED Youth in Palestine. In her job, Heba oversees job placements for Palestinian youth through technical and soft skill training programs. She analyses private sector needs and designs the training programs accordingly.
“We have been involved in constructing the macro-level forecasting model so that we can give the most valuable impact to our Palestinian youth. As an organization revolving around skills assessment, the model saves us a lot of effort. It provided guidelines for which direction we should be planning our programs so that they respond to the needs of the labor market,” says Heba.
Some conclusions from the report reveal that skill forecasting could help identify emerging issues, but that the process is continuous and not an end in itself. Projections do not give instantaneous results, but are part of a regular and easily-accessible flow of information.
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Activities building skills among youth organizations and young journalists; to enhance youth representation in media and promote freedom of expression, media and information literacy and youth-generated media content.
Activities joining youth organizations, employment experts and different national stakeholders to engage in dialogue and work together on unemployment solutions and skills needs.
Activities empowering youth to participate in the communal and national development, revision and implementation of national youth strategies and public policies.