A Generation in Waiting for Jobs and Justice: Young People Not in Education Employment or Training in North Africa
Abbott, P. and Teti, A. (2017). A Generation in Waiting for Jobs and Justice: Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training in North Africa. Arab Transformations Working Paper 18. Aberdeen: University of Aberdeen.
39 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2017 Last revised: 10 Oct 2017
Date Written: August 17, 2017
North Africa has some of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world and young women are at considerably greater risk of unemployment than young men and a majority of whom never make the school-employment transition. However, focusing on just those that are unemployed misses out on those that are neither in education or employment (NEETs). There are three main groups of NEETs: (1) unemployed, available for and actively seeking employment; (2) with drawn from the labour market and full-time careers; (3) not actively seeking work including those queuing for formal sector employment, the long-term sick and disabled and young women barred from employment by cultural norms. Recognition of the importance of focusing on NEETs is evidenced by the Sustainable Development Goals having a specific Goal of reducing the NEET rate. However, accurate and reliable data on NEET rates are not available for all countries and there is a reliance on survey data that is not always available for secondary data analysis.
To understand the school-employment transition given extended periods in education and the time young people take to make the school-employment transition it is important to look at the 15-29 year age group. While young men typically take 2 to 3 years to make the school work transition young women never make it. Young women are at much greater risk of unemployment and of being a NEET than young men, although young women are at greater risk of being out of the labour market and young men unemployed. A majority of male NEETs are unemployed and a majority of female NEETs are full-time carers. Nevertheless, nearly half of unemployed young people are women. Graduates and those living in rural areas are at greater risk of being a NEET than those living in urban areas and with lower educational qualifications. However, numerically there are more NEETs living in urban than rural areas and more with primary school or lower qualifications than those living in rural areas and with secondary and higher educational qualifications. There are differences between countries in the proportion of young people that are NEETs and the precise composition but the broad patterns are common across the countries.
While focusing on NEETs is important for developing policies it is important to recognise that the problem of youth unemployment and activity goes beyond job creation to creating decent jobs. A high proportion of those in employment are in poor quality, low paid and insecure employment. The main reasons for high unemployment and inactivity, at least for young men, is a lack of jobs. Certainly, young people think that lack of jobs followed by the need for wasta (connections) to get a job are the main causes of youth unemployment. For young women the picture is more complicated, certainly a lack of jobs that are considered gender appropriate for young women is an important factor as is the lack of equal opportunity but even more important are traditional cultural attitudes that see women’s primary role as carers and men’s as breadwinner. Nevertheless, more young women would take employment if decent jobs were available.
It follows that if more young people are to make the school-work transition and end up in decent jobs then more jobs need to be created. This means tackling the economic and political barriers to job creation and economic growth and making certain that there are the right jobs in the right places to absorb young people coming onto the labour market. There is no point tackling supply side issues if all that happens is that young people become employable but remain jobless. Nevertheless, reforming educational curricula and pedagogue so that young people have the skills and knowledge employers are looking for is also necessary.
Keywords: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, unemployment, not in education or employment (NEETs), corruption, neo-liberalism, job creationn, gender, decent work
JEL Classification: J16, J18, J21, J24, J68
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation