Arab youth unemployment: ‘The Long Run’ illustrates longstanding problem

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On The Brink - MENA Youth Unemployment. Source: Visualizing Impact

By: Maguy Arnous

Published Friday, December 12, 2014

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region marks the highest youth unemployment rate in the world, according to “The Long Run,” an infographic released on Friday by Visualizing Impact, an international multidisciplinary firm addressing critical social issues, along with Silatech, a grassroots initiative for empowering Arab youth.

Youth Unemployment and Delayed Independence in MENA. Source: Visualizing ImpactYouth Unemployment and Delayed Independence in MENA. Source: Visualizing Impact

The infographic highlights the relationship between two keys variables, youth unemployment and age of independence, and their effect on the economy of four developing regions.

At 28 percent (approximately seven million young Arabs), the MENA region comes ahead of Latin America and Caribbean (14 percent), Sub-Saharan Africa (12 percent) and East Asia (10 percent).

The MENA region’s high rate of youth unemployment means Arab youth must cross a greater distance in order to reach the ultimate goal of independence, as it is creatively visualized in the infographic.

In other words, Arab youth must wait longer to acquire their first professional experience.

Arab males, on average, have the highest age of independence of 29 across both genders and the four regions. However, Arab women acquire their first professional experience at 24, on average, coming to a close second to Sub-Saharan women who reach independence at 22.

Taking into account that the age of independence is marked by the age of marriage in the MENA region, the above results reflect further social burdens on Arab youth. Arab men hence carry the burden to secure a professional career and financial support before they venture into married life.

“If adulthood equals marriage in the Middle East [and North Africa], exclusion from marriage or delayed marriage compromises full participation in society,” Diane Singerman, Co-Director of Middle East Studies at American University in Washington DC, was quoted as saying in the report.

In addition, the region’s troubles, especially its worsening economy, are rooted in a hopeless and marginalized generation.

According to UN’s International Labor Organization (ILO), if the rate of unemployment is lowered to the global average of 13 percent percent, the GDP could increase by $25 billion by 2018.

“Youth unemployment is a pressing issue in many parts of the world, but nowhere is the problem more longstanding, with action more urgently required, than in the MENA region,” Dr. Tarik Yusuf, CEO of Silatech, said in the report.

“Without a job, and unable to marry and begin a family, too many young people are locked out from full participation in their societies,” he added.

“The Long Run,” a visual representation of the reality of Arab youth, also voiced their daily concerns.

“We want to build a real future for ourselves and for our countries. But how can you do this without a job?” asks Abdelwahab, an unemployed 24-year-old Tunisian.


* The education system is no good.
Kids are in school until they qualify for a job.
* Instead of learning towards THE JOB = EMPLOYMENT.
* In the meantime they are learning RUBBISH
that they & or their parents are paying big monies for.
* RUBBISH that will never serve them any use in the real world.
EG: - history & geography (not even in primary school) are no good to kids who wish to join the food preparation industries - maths & science & hygiene etc., are.
Or to a wannabe mechanic, singer, musical & creative artists,
It is all just a big waste of time & money.
LIFE IS TOO SHORT to be in school until you are 20 or more years old.
Whats more - the kid who hardly went to school, but learned food preparation & business in his families restaurant ( hands on) is more qualified than the kid who trained at the best cooking school in Paris . What is more they have had years of work experience.
It keeps young people in a state of suspended animation during the best years of their life.
Bored & with no practical living skills but the very basic had to mouth living, they turn to alcohol & drugs.

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