London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The states of the Arab world must create millions of new jobs for their young people if they are to avoid serious economic and political problems, a new UN report warned this week.
The organization’s annual Human Development Report was launched on Wednesday in Mexico City, and focuses on the “global south,” which encompasses the Arab states and the Middle East.
The report concludes that the Arab states have become the victims of their own success in improving healthcare, life expectancy and access to education, but are in danger of further instability if they do not create prospects for a better future for the region’s youth.
“Most countries that were part of the recent unrest in the Arab States had major gains in educational attainment but below-median employment to population ratios,” notes the report.
This has led to a situation in many Arab countries where there is a large population of educated young people who find themselves unable to join the workforce.
According to the statistics contained in the report, Egypt has the most acute problem with unemployment among the young running at over 50 per cent.
“The turmoil in several countries in the Arab States is a reminder that people, especially the young, who are better educated and healthier than previous generations put a high premium on meaningful employment, on exercising a voice in affairs that influence their lives, and on being treated with respect,” the report warns.
It also called for swift action to rectify the problem: “The challenge of attacking unemployment and poverty by creating productive and gainful jobs for today’s openly unemployed plus those newly entering the labor force is enormous, but it is also critical for Arab countries (especially in environments where formal safety nets are ineffective)—and it must be addressed now”.
Overall, the Arab states scored slightly below the world average in the report’s rankings of human development, but bottom in the employment to population ratio, indicating the scale of the problem.
In terms of recommendations, the report called on Arab banks and states with major sovereign wealth funds to build on their existing investments in infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa.
It also recommended improving access to education and employment for women and girls and the reduction in income inequalities worldwide.
The full report can be read here.