12.1 Workplace Exposure and Civic Engagement can Help Young People Develop Realistic Job Expectations and Make More Effective Decisions about Their Future

Recent studies have found that many young people in the MENA region have unrealistic expectations about employment prospects. Those expectations can negatively influence their life-planning, decision-making, and life trajectories. For example, many young people expect higher salaries than the marketplace offers. They may also spend years outside formal employment waiting for coveted public sector jobs that bring social prestige and status. Entering into the marketplace through internships or entry-level positions can help young people revise their expectations and understand what is feasible. They can open up new paths to employment or entrepreneurship based on an individual’s skills and interests rather than familial or societal expectations. Civic engagement and community activities also form an entry-point into employment, yet the region has typically had low youth participation in community activities.

Organizations working to increase and improve economic opportunities for young people in the region are finding that employers and family members also need to shift their mind-set around youth employment. Employers need to take more risks on young people, and family members need to support non-traditional paths for young people.

12.1.1 Research Spotlight: IFC researches Education and Employment in Arab World

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, partnered with the Islamic Development Bank to produce a report entitled “Education for Employment: Realizing Arab Youth Potential.” The study focuses on post-secondary education for employment or “e4e” systems across the Arab world, focusing on private sector opportunities. Research included 1,500 youth surveys and 1,500 employer surveys; 200+ interviews with senior business, political and education leaders; a literature review; and case studies.

The report found that while demand for e4e is substantial, supply is nascent. The e4e that does exist lacks comprehensive standards and quality assurance, adequate funding mechanisms for students, welltrained education providers and employers, and information transparency and matchmaking between employers and students. Further details on the research and recommendations can be found at: http://e4earabyouth.com/report.php.