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ILO hosts two-day international conference in Geneva to address the most pressing issues related to youth and decent work in North Africa.

With a youth unemployment rate at 28.8 percent, twice the global average, countries need to adopt a more concerted global response to tackle the youth employment crisis in North Africa, the International Labour Organization (ILO) warned.

“In order to fill the youth employment gap in the North African region, we call on social partners, governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations together with development partners, to renew their commitment and action on youth employment”, said Deborah Greenfield, ILO Deputy Director-General for Policy. “A strong policy response is needed to reverse these trends.”

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Greenfield addressed a two-day international conference  hosted by the ILO in Geneva under the theme “Scale up actions for youth employment” which discussed the most pressing issues related to youth and decent work in North Africa.

North Africa is still affected by unsustainable levels of youth unemployment and poor economic participation. Only 16.6 percent of young women and 46.8 percent of young men are economically active (at work or seeking work); among those active, 29.3 per cent (24.1 per cent for young men and 44.4 per cent for young women) are unemployed; and around 25 per cent of working youth are estimated to be living in poverty.

“Comprehensive and coordinated policy responses, implementation and action based on evidence, social dialogue and global partnerships, should lead a more proactive international action to respond to high levels of youth unemployment and underemployment, increasing informality, and slow productivity growth”, Greenfield said.

Young workers are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults. What’s more, North Africa has one of the largest gender imbalances in labour market participation.

By adopting a new “Roadmap for Youth Employment in North Africa”, governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations, other key stakeholders in North Africa, and development partners attending the Conference are expected to outline an evidence-based strategy on youth employment for the next five years.

The roadmap for youth employment in North Africa builds on existing frameworks such as the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, the SDGs , national plans and others. “An important follow up will be to work together for the realisation of this roadmap, under the framework of the ILO 2012 Call for Action, and decent work for the youth of North Africa”, Greenfield underlined.

Ministers and Deputy Ministers from Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia attending the High-level Panel on Challenges and Opportunities for Youth Employment in North Africa reaffirmed that the youth employment policy challenge would require a coordinated strategy.

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder who also attended the conference concluded: “Arguably the single biggest global development challenge in the decades to come will be the need to integrate hundreds of millions of young people into the labour market.”


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