Labour reforms 'key to job creation'
Manama, February 28, 2014
Reforms in labour markets and social protection are key to job creation in the Arab world.
This was the conclusion of a three-day forum in Riyadh where ministers, representatives from international organisations, private sector and labour union experts gathered to discuss challenges and solutions related to access to the labour market, rigidity in economic structures, and enhanced social protection systems, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
The forum, "Towards Social Protection and Sustainable Development," was organised by the World Bank in partnership with the Arab Labour Organisation and the Saudi Labour Ministry.
The forum concluded with the adoption of the Riyadh Declaration, which lays policy recommendations to support job creation, enhanced social protection systems and improved processes for social dialogue.
The declaration urged comprehensive reforms that will build the human capital, contribute to economic growth and boost prosperity across the region. It also urged Arab countries to solve unemployment and exclusion through co-operation between governments, international and regional organisations and the private sector.
Participants included more than 42 ministers from Arab League member countries, representatives from international organisations such as the ILO, the Islamic Development Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, as well as members from the private sector and labour unions.
"The Arab region persistently ranks higher than any other region in its unemployment figures, which overwhelmingly reflects the numbers of youth and women," said World Bank regional vice-president for the Middle East and North Africa Inger Andersen.
"When we include inactive and unemployed individuals, joblessness is as high as 54 per cent for those between the ages of 15 and 64."
"The biggest asset available to any economy is its people and the Arab world is blessed with a young, vibrant, committed and engaged youth who want to take part in shaping the society of tomorrow through active participation in the labour market and the business world," she said.
Some Arab countries have taken important steps to tackle youth unemployment and extend access to social protection systems to all citizens. However, addressing unemployment and social exclusion remain a challenge.
"Tackling unemployment requires our attention, and the need for the simultaneous review of development patterns," Arab Labour Organisation director-general Ahmed Luqman said.-TradeArabia News Service