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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Conference to Focus on Solutions to Growing Youth Unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa

Attended by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department- AMMAN) Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah today attended part of the Youth@Work: Partnerships for Skills Development conference, convened by the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and the Arab Urban Development Institute (AUDI), and sponsored by the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Youth Employment.

With 25 percent of youth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region currently unemployed, the conference brings together more than 200 representatives of public, private, and civil society organizations, as well as youth to discuss practical approaches to supporting youth employability. Its goal is to engage participants in efforts to build effective, scalable, and sustainable development projects that raise youth skills across the region.
"Our focus in all conferences has been to engage critical stakeholders from across each sector in dialogue about core themes central to IYF – the effectiveness, scale and sustainability of programs supporting youth", said IYF President and CEO Mr. William S. Reese at the opening session.

Chairman of the Amman Municipal Committee, Mr. Abdul Haleem Kailani, expressed the municipality's full support for the conference as it comes in line with many of their youth investment programs.
Mr. Hedi Larbi, Country Director of The World Bank – Lebanon, said that "the World Bank can and is ready to play a role in this process together with other development partners. Solutions need alliance; this is why “together” is the key word here".
Christopher Crowley, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Middle East, USAID, said that they have set new methodologies that support partnerships with the local community and aim to create the best environment for youth entrepreneurs.

Ronnan Farrow, Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for Global Youth Issues, U.S. State Department, praised Jordan for its policies that help empower youth. He also stressed the importance of vocational training which helps create new job opportunities.
Ms. Deepali Khann, Youth Learning Director at the MasterCard Foundation in Canada, noted that MasterCard is proud to be a part of this conference as its goals come in line with the foundation's vision.

Vice President of Arab Urban Development Institute in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Abdullah Al Sabeel noted that this conference is crucial in helping to identify the main reasons behind youth unemployment.
The audience also listened to a discussion between two youth from the Youth for Work Program in Jordan who talked about the challenges youth usually face, and how the Youth@Work program helped overcome them.

The conference also included a dabkeh performance by a group of 12 youth from Southern Shouneh and Sahab who had already performed at previous Youth Work Jordan graduation ceremonies.
The three day event, which is part of an annual series of major conferences and learning events, will focus on promoting shared understanding and knowledge about how to properly assess youth skills development needs, design quality programs accordingly, and evaluate the effectiveness and impact of such programs.

The conference will also provide a platform for key announcements, including the World Bank’s ongoing work under the Global Partnership for Youth Employment and the launch of its new publication, Measuring Success of Youth Livelihood Interventions; the MasterCard Foundation’s youth employment and entrepreneurship program in Egypt; and a new e-learning entrepreneurship curriculum, Build Your Business, produced by Microsoft and IYF.

In Jordan, several new private and public sector contributions to youth training programs are being announced. These contributions have been catalyzed by USAID’s support for the Youth:Work Jordan program, a five-year initiative by USAID, IYF, and the Jordanian Ministry of Social Development that helps to create an enabling environment for disadvantaged youth who are out-of-school, unemployed, and lack opportunity.

The first two days of the event will promote knowledge-sharing on how best to assess and build youth skills, develop demand-driven training approaches, deliver quality life skills instruction, incorporate voluntary service as a skill-building pathway, and evaluate overall program effectiveness. The third day wi