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ICT could address MENA region youth unemployment

Report calls for IT to be used for more training, job matching and skills diversification

ICT could address MENA region youth unemployment
There are many areas where governments can use technology to tackle unemployment, says Edde.

Technology could play a major role in helping to tackle the problem of youth unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa region, according to a report released ahead of the World Economic Forum MENA in May.

The report, which was produced by INSEAD Business School, the Center for Economic Growth in Abu Dhabi, and SAP, highlights the way that technology can be harnessed not just to create new jobs within the ICT sector, but also to impact on every aspect of of labour markets.

The MENA region has 40 million under-unemployed youth and 27 million not in education, employment, or training, with the highest rate of youth unemployement 27.2% in the world, according to WEF.

With proper co-ordination between public, private and academic sectors, the report's authors say that technology can be put to use in facilitating job search and a better matching of jobs via online market places and also via more flexible forms of work from online contracting; that online learning can be used to upskill workforces in diverse sectors of the economy and that greater emphasis can be placed on enabling entrepreneurship.

"New information and communication technologies are indeed creating more jobs in the ICT sector itself in the form of digital jobs and digital entrepreneurship. Yet, these effects will be felt far beyond the sector: e-skills are now required in all sectors," said Bruno Lanvin, executive director, INSEAD Global Indices.

"ICTs enable employment in all other sectors of the economy by facilitating job search and a better matching of jobs, facilitating up-skilling, empowering entrepreneurs in diverse sectors of the economy and providing decision makers with actionable data," added Lanvin.

Governments in region should be looking to develop entrepreneurs and also to develop a Labour Market Platform, similar to Germany's Virtual Labour Market (VLM) Platform, according to Selim Edde, vice president, Government Relations, SAP MENA.

"Governments in the region have a critical role to play in leading national initiatives for employment: putting in place policies; raising awareness and articulating a clear strategy and messaging to enthuse communities; and finally providing an ICT platform where all the stakeholders - especially youth - can connect, massively collaborate and co-innovate to create the jobs of tomorrow," he said.

"Big Data, mobility, social media, youth centric applications, and actionable data will have a transformational effect. The key component will be in the implementation and execution on that vision and strategy," added Edde.

An end-to-end Labour Market Platform would provide a single online, real-time resource which would link all employment stakeholders to bring together information about job seekers' profiles with systematic and regularly updated occupational qualification databases, local and regional labour market data.

"The platform would need to be able to handle both structured and unstructured Big Data for predictive analytics," Edde said. "It would also need to include mobility for use on mobile devices, cloud for scalability, and social media for personalizing insights.

"On the front end, the platform is an online portal that is easy to use and easy to consume. The platform should be omni-channel, so it could take the form of a kiosk at a mall, a mobile app for a smartphone, or even used on a smartwatch," he added.

The report also sets out a benchmarking framework, called the Digital & Talent Model, which can be deployed over time for allowing policy makers to evaluate the evolution of domestic labour markets as determined by the intersection of talent; ICTs; and innovation and entrepreneurship

"By combining data from INSEAD's three indices on talent, innovation, and network readiness, the report was able to develop a framework for analyzing these three critical components and assessing the impact of digitization on countries and societies," said Patricia McCall, executive director, Centre for Economic Growth in Abu Dhabi.

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