Gathering of Arab labour ministers paves the way for donor meeting to support Palestinian employment

The ILO, in cooperation with the Arab Labour Organization and the Palestinian Ministry of Labour, held a ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the Arab Labour Conference in Cairo, in preparation for a donors’ meeting to be held next year to support the Palestinian National Employment Strategy.

Press release | 07 September 2021
Cairo (ILO News) - Within the framework of the ILO’s support for the first Palestinian National Employment Strategy, which was launched in March 2021, and in response to requests by the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and the Arab Group, the ILO’s Regional Office for Arab States will convene, in cooperation with the Arab Labour Organization The Palestinian Ministry of Labour, a donor meeting in March 2022, to highlight key aspects of the strategy and secure resources for its implementation. The donor meeting will also fall in line with a call by the 45th Session of the Arab Labour Conference in 2018 to hold a donor meeting to support employment in the OPT.

In order to introduce key aspects of the strategy and the aims of the donor conference, the ILO, in cooperation with the Arab Labour Organization and the Palestinian Ministry of Labour, held an introductory ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the 47th Arab Labour Conference in Cairo.

During the ministerial meeting, the ILO also introduced the Global Call to Action for a human-centred recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, adopted by the International Labour Conference in June.

The ministerial meeting opened with addresses by the Director General of the Arab Labour Organization Fayez Al-Mutairi, ILO Regional Director for Arab States Ruba Jaradat, and Palestinian Minister of Labour Nasri Abu Jaish. The Palestinian Ministry of Labour also presented an outline of the National Employment Strategy, and the ILO outlined the funding needs required to support implementation of the strategy.

ILO Regional Director Jaradat said during the ministerial meeting that the Palestinian labour market has been fragile for decades, and has enjoyed little flexibility in the face of frequent closures of the OPT, workplace closures and the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. During 2020, the Territory’s GDP contracted by 11.5 percent, and the bleak economic situation was reflected in the labour market as overall unemployment rates rose to 25.9 percent. The already low labour force participation rate fell by 3.4 percentage points to 40.9 per cent. Overall, the equivalent of 161,000 jobs were lost in 2020 – equal to nearly twice the global and regional rates, Jaradat said. Women's participation in the labour force also decreased by 1.9 percentage points to 16.1 percent, which is among the lowest rates in the world. Young graduates have also been affected and many have lost their foothold in the labour market. More than a quarter of Palestinians in the OPT - 1.4 million individuals - live in poverty.

Based on the priority areas identified by the Palestinian National Employment Strategy, the donor meeting next year will discuss securing the required funding to support employment in the OPT in ten key areas: strengthening the labour market information system, supporting enhanced public employment services, improving labour inspection and addressing informality, linking social protection to stimulation of the labour market, strengthening the institutions and structures of social dialogue and social security, strengthening technical and vocational education and training systems in line with labour market needs, improving the business environment, promoting growth and creating job opportunities in priority sectors, supporting entrepreneurship, and supporting local production.

The Palestinian National Employment Strategy 2021-2025 is the first comprehensive strategy adopted in the Arab States region since the beginning of the global pandemic. It reflects a strong national tripartite commitment to support recovery and improve future employment prospects through promoting inclusive private sector development and job creation, better skills and greater employability, better social protection coverage for all workers, and social dialogue.

Jaradat also urged all countries in the Arab region to implement the Global Call to Action for a Human-Centred Recovery, leaving no one behind. The Call to Action prioritizes the creation of decent jobs for all and addresses the inequalities caused by the crisis.

"There is no doubt that heading this Call to Action will accelerate sustainable recovery in the region if governments, in cooperation with social partners, make the necessary efforts," she said.