The World Bank said yesterday that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region needs to create 300 million new jobs by 2050.
Vice President for MENA at the World Bank, Farid Belhaj, made the comment on the side lines of the "Investing in Human Capital for a Better Future for the Region" conference taking place in Tunisian capital Tunis this weekend, during which two reports on global development prospects for 2019 and education in the MENA region were presented.
Belhaj called for reform in education and supporting the private sector, saying that:
All countries in the region must create 10 million jobs each year by opening doors to the private sector as the engine of the economy […] The country sustains and supports the private sector, but it is unable to provide all employment opportunities.
One of the reports presented – "World Development 2019" – called for MENA countries to invest in human capital, especially early childhood education, saying that: "If governments do not move now, invest in quality education, and improve learning, many of these young people will face a life full of frustration and disappointment, with impacts and implications not only for the region, but also for the world."
For his part, Tunisian Minister of Investment, Development and International Cooperation Ziad Al-Adhari told reporters that: "The Arab region is rich in human resources, but having resources without qualifications, competencies and skills to deal with the job market and integrate into the economic cycle will be a major challenge."
Al-Adhari pointed out that "many of the jobs will disappear and other jobs will emerge due to technological and digital transformations, which will push governments today to think more about preparing young people and children for a fourth industrial revolution and digital transformation." "This requires investment in human capital, and Tunisia was among the first countries to respond to the World Bank's initiative to push for this," he stressed.
The second report – which discussed education in MENA – stated that the region occupies the highest position in terms of absolute capacity for educational transition between generations, compared to other regions of the world. Yet it also explained that countries in the region are experiencing a low rate of intergenerational income, whereas education in the rest of the world is closely related to high income.