Governments in the Middle East and North Africa region need to create around one hundred million jobs as challenges including low economic growth and political uncertainty continue to send unemployment rates high, IMF officials and experts said on Saturday.
At a press conference on job creation and business at the IMF HQ in Washington, Nemat Shafik, the Deputy Managing director of the IMF, said this region is expected to witness a 2 percent growth, but "that will not be enough to help improve the situation especially to create jobs for youths".
"Economic challenges have been blamed for increased unemployment to 11 percent among people above 40 years and more than double this figure among the youths," she said. "One in four people in this region are jobless".
The press conference put the spotlight on key economic challenges in the region and what governments need to do to address them.
Experts and guests said priority should be given to improving education systems, deepening partnership between the public and private sectors, impose the rule of law, small and medium-sized enterprises to face challenges in the region.
Sidi Ould Tah, Mauritanian Minister for Economic Affairs and Development, said the educational output is not in harmony with needs of the labour market and this issue requires reconsideration into the educational systems. He also advised to develop professional training to employees at the two sectors, while also pointing to the importance of creating an immediate transition program sponsored by the public sector in coordination with the private sector and civil society.
Ragui Asaad, a professor of planning and public affairs at University of Minnesota, said bad education systems have led to investment in wrong workforce in this region.
At the press conference, experts also discussed business activity, challenges and proposals to improve the business climate with the gaol of absorbing jobless especially by the private sector.
Moncef Rouhou, Deputy Chairman of the Tunisian Finance Committee, said governments in the MENA region should combat illegal activities mainly trafficking because they directly affect the business climate and then contribute to more joblessness.
In this context, experts also urged governments to combine between administration and finance, help small and medium-sized enterprises and ease administrative procedures to boost investment in productive sectors.