At a recent consultative meeting on the subject of youth employment, participants stressed the need to develop a legal framework and establish agreements between Yemen and Gulf states to absorb Yemeni workers in the latter’s markets, with both marking necessary steps towards the establishment of employment agencies in Yemen.
The outcome of the meeting, which was organized by the Studies & Economic Media Center (SEMC) and the Economic Reforms Team in cooperation with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), was the recommendation of a number of proposals designed to reduce unemployment in Yemen, which affects 35% of the workforce and 60% of the country’s employable youth. Participants also pointed towards the need to focus on labor-intensive projects, as well as training and development to meet market requirements. Some participants also stated that the Skills Development Fund needed to be reorganized.
At the meeting, which was attended by business leaders, representatives of relevant government agencies, donors, civil society organization representatives and young people, it was decided that a survey of the labor market should be conducted.
At the opening of the meeting, Mustafa Nasr, the head of the Studies and Economic Media Center, said that the issue of unemployment among young people was one of the most important issues in Yemen and in the Arab world in general, and one which led to the events of the Arab Spring. Nasr also expressed his regret that the government had not developed any practical solutions to tackle youth unemployment.
Nasr stated that youth employment should be one of the private sector’s priorities, alongside security, the rule of law, infrastructure, effective partnerships, the constitution and the planned National Dialogue Conference.
For his part, Ahmed Bazaraa, the head of the Economic Reforms Team, said Yemen’s private sector could provide a number of jobs as long as there was security and an appropriate economic environment. Bazaraa said that the government had to focus more on economic issue and not just address security and political matters.
Ahmed Al-Asharia, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, said that unemployment was Yemen’s essential problem, and went on to express his appreciation for SEMC’s efforts to address the issue.
He explained that the ministry had prepared a project which aimed to provide 1.7 million jobs as well as a skills development project for 200 thousand young people, but added they had been turned down no less than three times by the government.
Dr. Mohammed Al-Maitami, a member of the Economic Reforms Team and a professor of economics, said that Yemen saw more than 200 thousand new and employable youths annually, but that the government and private sector was only able to provide them with between 30 to 35 thousand jobs a year.
Al-Maitami submitted a paper concerned with how to tackle the unemployment issue in the short, medium and long term. He suggested skills-development and training programs for Yemeni workers in the form of public works programs, fast training programs, a fund for skills training in the construction sector, the creation of employment companies in collaboration with the private sector, and obliging oil and gas companies to fund skills development and training programs in the governorates where they operate.
The paper also included lending projects for small enterprises, financial and non-financial services, and a fund for employing young graduates.
Participant proposals included focusing on the importance of creating an appropriate environment for the private sector, developing the skills and abilities of young people, and the creation of a culture of adherence to work ethics.