Youth in Morocco, Jordan, Palestine and Tunisia Forecast Skills to Address Unemployment
The Middle East and North Africa region has some of the highest unemployment rates worldwide. Having a large young populace means that almost half of the unemployed are youth. Estimates show that 20 million young people have informal or low-quality jobs. Their main worry is to find a job with a decent pay. Studies also demonstrate how youth skills do not generally match the needs of the labor market, making it even more difficult for them to find a job.
One way the NET-MED Youth project addresses the unemployment challenge is by anticipating what skills are needed for the future and by encouraging the youth and national stakeholders to work together towards meeting these needs. That means that experts and youth work on the development of national forecasting models. They conduct various workshops where youth and other stakeholders use these forecasts in national dialogues on current and future challenges in the areas of unemployment and education.
October 2015 marked the first step of this unique initiative at national levels in beneficiary countries.
NET-MED Youth invited its External Expert Team on skills forecasting to hold the first two one-week-long kick-start meetings in Morocco and Jordan with youth organizations, national partner institutions and other stakeholders. Everyone sat around the table to discuss national skills planning, agree on a forecasting model to develop and draft a capacity-building plan for national stakeholders and youth organizations. Similar meetings followed in Palestine and Tunisia in December.
“The mission in Morocco was a decisive moment for NET-MED Youth," says Zoubida Mseffer, National Project Officer in Morocco. "It allowed us to picture better how we could implement the activity, both with national institutions and youth organizations. Experts could meet NET-MED Youth organizations, who are the driving force of this project, and discuss with them their priorities and viewpoints on the issue of training and youth employment."
Jordan was first to have a skills forecasting meeting as the country already had an extensive labor market model that gives a good starting point for forecasting skills. The week in Jordan consisted of several meetings with the External Expert Team, the Ministry of Planning & International Cooperation (MOPIC), the NET-MED Youth National Project Officer and other project team members.
The missions to Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia followed a similar pattern. They each consisted of several interactive workshops and meetings with the External Expert Team, the Haut Commissariat au Plan (Morocco), the Palestine Economic Research Institute (MAS), the Tunisian Observatoire National de l’Emploi et des Qualifications (ONEQ), the respective NET-MED Youth National Project Officers and the project team members.
"The NET-MED YOUTH workshops are quite different from the other projects," says Nour Kaabi, Project Coordinator of the youth organization Jamaity, in Tunisia. "As a young person, I feel involved in the reflection and the decision making process for once. This unique approach encourages the ownership of the project among youth."
In all countries, two major workshop sessions were organized – one with youth organizations and one with institutional stakeholders. The objective was to introduce the Skills forecasting axis of the NET-MED Youth project and to reinforce the partnership between the External Expert Team, the technical staff and both the institutional stakeholders and youth organizations.
The workshops provided a fertile space for the exchange of ideas and brainstorming. Representatives national institutional stakeholders discussed what research on the labor market they needed, how a forecasting model could benefit the different stakeholders and what data the stakeholders produced. The youth organizations were introduced to the added-value of the skills forecasting process and to international models. Youth also presented their activities and defined their capacity needs in terms of labor market information and skills demand.
Many key and active youth organisations participated. In Jordan, the Princess Basma Youth Resource Centre (PBYRS), Leaders of Tomorrow, the Jordan youth commission and the Higher Council for Youth took part. In Morocco, the youth were represented by the Collectif des Associations pour l'Education et l'Entrepreneuriat, MENA Policy Hub, the Moroccan Center for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship, Enactus and Injaz Al Maghrib. In Palestine, the participating organizations were Sharek Youth Forum, Leaders Organization, Palestine Education for Employment, Young Women Christian Society, Palestinian Vision and Palestine Ahliyyeh University. Tunisia counted on the participation of Réso, 2 mains tu crées, Jeunes entreprises, Elspace and Jamaity for Tunisia.
All missions wrapped up with a project teamwork session, where participants agreed on an action plan and lined up the next steps.
"The next steps look very promising since we will specifically address Youth organizations capacity-building needs through an innovative and tailored capacity development approach, while supporting national institutions on skills forecasting models,” says Zoubida.
The External Expert Team will now develop the skills forecasting model together with the national stakeholders. By April 2016, the model will be ready for testing and in May 2016 capacity-building workshops will be conducted in each country to strengthen the capacities of youth and national stakeholders in the area of skills anticipation.
With actual skills forecasting data, trained stakeholders and stronger youth organizations, the future of skills and education planning will hopefully include not only the anticipated needs of the labour market but also the needs of the wider society and of youth themselves.
Similar skills forecasting meetings are planned for Lebanon, Algeria and Israel in the first quarter of 2016.
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.