Skills and Employability in the Arab States

The Arab States currently face a major unemployment crisis, mainly due to a lack of job creation rather than the competencies of workers. However, the region also suffers from a serious mismatch between the competencies that are in demand, and those supplied through the education and skills development systems. This skills mismatch is due primarily to:

  • Significant over-qualification of tertiary educated students compared to jobs that are often at skilled and technical levels;
  • inefficient governance of many national skills-development systems that fail to involve employers and workers in a meaningful manner, and hence their programmes lack market relevance;
  • programmes that are based neither on skills anticipation nor on evidence of success of past interventions;
  • qualifications that are often not competency-based, as well as certificates which are not trusted by employers or used for recruitment; and
  • capacity of employers to identify the competencies required for business growth and transmit the right signals to the market the skills they require.
At the same time, national systems are poorly equipped for lifelong learning required to respond to the challenges that the Future of Work presents. Nonetheless, there have been important positive developments towards reform of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in the region, in particular relating to (a) skills and employment committees for local economic development in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), (b) the adoption of a TVET strategy in Lebanon, (c) the adoption of new TVET law in Jordan that provides space for employers to steer the process at national and at sector levels.

ILO Response in Arab States

The ILO’s skills and employability interventions are based on Human Resources Development Recommendation, 2004 (No. 195), the conclusions on skills for improved productivity, employment growth and development of the International Labour Conference (2008), as well as the ILO’s Call for Action on Youth Employment (2012), and the 2019 ILO Centenary Declaration on the Future of Work.

The ILO’s activities to enhance market relevant skills and improve employability include: