Looking for talent to fill vacancies, especially in the EMEA region? By some estimates, more than 100 million youth in MENA countries will be entering the workforce by 2020. The MENA region refers to Middle East and North Africa, and covers an extensive region from Morocco to Iran. This region has been impacted by war, violence and low oil prices. Growth is expected to be worse through 2017 and only slightly more optimistic in 2018 and 2019. Per the World Bank's MENA Economic Monitor, "The disappointing performance of the MENA economies, and possibly the global economy, is partly due to the rise of terrorist attacks and spread of violent extremism."
Looking closely at a typical urban area in the MENA region, you often find that 60% of the population is young (under age 25), and they are out on the street in the middle of the day because there is nothing for them to do. Youth unemployment in some MENA countries is as high as 40%! Currently, youth unemployment in MENA is twice the world average.
Much of the job market is overdependent on public-sector employment and this comes with numerous drawbacks. Per the World Economic Forum, "MENA’s young people are struggling to see a future in a market where tremendous wealth and economic growth is juxtaposed against staggeringly high rates of joblessness."
And yet, in a report from INSEAD, the Centre for Economic Growth and Google (MENA Talent Competitiveness Index 2017), there is huge potential within this somewhat gloomy situation.
According to the report: "The MENA region holds huge potential to become a key player in a knowledge-powered global economy. Releasing and leveraging that potential will largely rely on the region’s ability to provide its younger generations with meaningful jobs. Education, the development of the private sector, and the understanding of how technology is changing the world of work will be key ingredients for success."
But what many want for this region is not for talent to be lured away to other countries around the world where they contribute to that economy, but to have companies see the potential of an amazingly large and hungry workforce, and invest in creating businesses and jobs within the region.
If you are a business looking at emerging or frontier markets, MENA might be your best bet!
These young people are eager to find rewarding work but they find themselves in an incredibly competitive job market where they lack the essential skills to be hired for some jobs, and, sadly, the personal or family connections to be hired for others. As a CEO, I see this struggle from the other side as well. There is a constant struggle to bring managers in the MENA region out of a nepotistic mindset when it comes to hiring. My company has invested in training our managers how to identify, attract and retain qualified young people, rather than hiring family members or the family of close friends. But this is not the case across the region, and the lack of connections all too often presents an unreasonable obstacle to employment for smart, motivated youth.