Enabling Success: Supporting young people in their transition from learning to decent work in the Middle East and North Africa

What is it?

This report has been developed as an analytical contribution to the 2022 Regional High-Level Meeting on ‘Young People’s learning, skills and transition to decent work’ (Amman, 23-24 May 2022). The analytical work and the drafting of the final report have been conducted by Legacy Social Development Advisory.

Despite decades of interventions, MENA countries have not been successful at overcoming the barriers and bottlenecks hindering young people as they attempt to transition from education to decent work. Youth unemployment remains persistently high across the region and labour force participation remains low, especially among young women. Education and skills gaps remain; in some countries they have worsened. With few exceptions, private-sector reforms have not led to an enabling environment for businesses to grow, thrive and create enough decent jobs.


  • One issue is a fragmented policy environment and lack of coordination among key actors. To address this, countries have introduced ministries of youth to help coordinate youth policy. However, they often lack sufficient capacity and rely on front-line ministries to deliver the proposed programmes, services and reforms. Another issue is insufficient governance with respect to the administration of policies and programmes, including a lack of institutional capacity to implement ambitious strategies and limited feedback mechanisms – vital for course correction.
  • Several global drivers of change are underway and will affect economic, social and environmental outcomes worldwide. These include climate change, demographic shifts, urbanization, technological change and a transition to renewable energy. Each driver of change represents an opportunity to develop better options for young people. Together, they provide a strong incentive for countries to adapt and invest in reskilling their workforce, creating the potential for rapid development and growth.