From Protection to Promotion –Young People’s Transition to Work and the Role of Social Protection Policies in MENA


English and Arabic Interpretation was provided.

Youth unemployment in the MENA region is the highest in the world, with 29.4% in Northern Africa and 24.7% in the Arab States. Unemployment among young women is even much higher, with about 40.3% in North Africa and 36.5% in the Arab States, despite their relatively high levels of academic qualifications, and not considering the low female labour force participation in the region. (UNICEF, 2018).

Making sure young people are provided with adequate knowledge, skills and support to successfully integrate into the labour market is a major concern across the MENA region. To complement education policy, social protection—including labour market policies—can play a crucial role in supporting young people’s transition to work (YPTW).

Evidence from the literature review shows that labour market programmes can lead to positive impacts on income and employment, especially when targeting poor and vulnerable groups. Especially, active labour market policies (ALMPs), such as job training, employment services, employment stimulus and activation strategies play a fundamental role here. Yet, in MENA, the delivery of ALMPs is often fragmented, not only with respect to the number of programmes and institutions involved, but also with respect to the types of actors (public and non-public) that provide ALMPs in the region.

Against this background, this technical roundtable aimed to identify ways of improving their potential to promote transitions to work for young people in MENA, especially among vulnerable groups. The roundtable drew on empirical evidence presented in the study The role of social protection in young people’s transition to work in the Middle East and North Africa (see One Pager in English here and Arabic here) published by the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) in partnership with UNICEF MENA Regional Office and ILO Arab States. In addition, the event provided a space for young people from the region to share their experiences and/or expectations regarding ALMPs, and how these fit within broader issues concerning YPTW.

The roundtable was organised as part of a series of technical roundtables in preparation for the Regional Summit, which will be organised by the Regional UN Issue Based Coalition (IBC) for Adolescents and Youth (In-Person Event planned for Q1/2022) , which will aim to create Joint action towards ‘Young People’s Learning, Skilling, Social Inclusion and Transition to Work’ – exchanging good practices, young people contributing to shape action, governments committing to develop action plan, and partners committing to support countries. In addition to the roundtable on the role of Social protection/ALMPs, two other roundtables will be organised, namely on: 1) Learning & Skilling and 2) Decent jobs for Young People. Each roundtable will be organised by the lead agencies on the topic within the IBC group and their partners.


Opening: Samman Thapa, Regional Adviser Social Policy, UNICEF MENARO


Nicolò Bird, Researcher, IPC-IG (lead author of The role of social protection in young people's transition to work in the Middle East and North Africa)
Mr. Kishore Singh, Senior Regional Skills Specialst, ILO ROAS
Ms. Fatma Mosaad, Social Protection consultant with the Ministry of Social Solidarity, Egypt
Dr. Nader Kabbani, Founder & CEO, Legacy Social Development Advisory
Mr. Rani Khoury, Associate Partner, To Excel 

Youth Leaders:

Ahmad Khamisi
Rana Bou Jaber
Fadila Wehbi

Moderator: Maya Hammad, Researcher, IPC-IG