Queen Rania Launches Campaign to Prepare 1 Million Arab Youth for Workforce

January 24, 2008

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department - Davos) Joined by 40 international and regional CEOs, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan launched a campaign at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Thursday, to support the work readiness skills of high school students across the Arab world.  The campaign, "Empowering One Million Arab Youth by 2018", was conceived by INJAZ al-Arab, a confederation of national operations working with 10,000 corporate volunteers to train Arab students through exciting hands-on programs in work readiness, in partnership with ministries of education.  The initiative aims to empower one million Arab students by 2018 through the support of international and regional corporations who send their staff into local schools for an hour each week to share their professional experience with youth in a unique set of entrepreneurship programs. “INJAZ is a big piece of the job jigsaw alongside accelerated educational reforms and greater private sector engagement. If all these pieces are in place, the infamous 2018 challenge won’t seem as daunting," said Queen Rania, who is the Regional Ambassador of INJAZ. "INJAZ is a promise to the Arab world… a promise to launch upon our region – across all sectors - young men and women who can recognize opportunity and pursue it, innovate and generate new ideas, think creatively and critically, manage risks, and bounce back from knocks along the way but INJAZ needs the support of the private sector – people like you – to deliver on that promise," she added.  According to a recent World Bank report, traditional education in the majority of MENA countries is incompatible with the demands of the global marketplace. Through INJAZ, Arab states are realizing the need to introduce courses designed to expose students to modern business practices, and have begun implementing work experience and mentorship programs through INJAZ's local operations.  "Competition today transcends nationality and borders. This campaign aims to muster the human capital of international and regional corporations to empower the work skills of our youth," Omar Al Ghanim, CEO of Al Ghanim Industries, and INJAZ al-Arab Board Chair, said.  "Young people constitute one third of the working-age population in MENA but account for half of the unemployed, which suggests that joblessness is a youth issue. And the process of acquiring marketable job skills is not taking place in academia. INJAZ is already in 12 Arab countries, 300 thousand students have been trained so far since inception in Jordan back in 1999. The One Million Arab Youth Campaign aims to accelerate student reach up to one million annually by 2018," Al Ghanim explained. Sam DePiazza, CEO of PricewaterhouseCoopers and former Board Chair of Junior Achievement Worldwide (JA), INJAZ al-Arab's parent organization, talked about the role of JA in inspiring young people to succeed in a global economy. "Now in its 88th year, JA provides hands-on experiential learning in enterprise education for 8 million students a year, from kindergarten to 12th grade," DePiazza explained. "By mobilizing a global force of business volunteers to teach in-school programs, this campaign will empower Arab students with the skills they need today to succeed tomorrow in the regional and global marketplace," he added.  INJAZ al-Arab board member and ARAMEX CEO Fadi Ghandour highlighted the untapped potential of corporate CSR in leveraging the status of the future Arab workforce. "Corporations are the change agents that could take this initiative to its ultimate potential." Ghandour noted. "Companies rarely leverage their greatest assets when supporting educational programs— their own expertise in their core competencies. The old model of funding schools and scholarships is no longer enough. Corporations need to realize they bring a unique set of capabilities and expertise to the partnership table— something that no other sector has, he added.  Meanwhile, INJAZ al-Arab Vice Chair Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed addressed the need to unleash the business and leaderships skills of young Arabs at a time when experiential knowledge has become today's business currency. "To see such young students undertaking INJAZ programs and leaving with the knowledge and leadership of true businesspeople is an opportunity we wish every Arab student to have," Sheikh Bin Zayed noted.  "By staying on course with our purpose to inspire and prepare youth to succeed in a global economy, we were able to continually develop and deliver relevant entrepreneurial programs to the youth of the Arab World by mobilizing the CEOs and volunteers of global, regional and local corporations," noted Soraya Salti, Senior Vice President of INJAZ al-Arab. "With a regional marketplace waiting to be flooded by 70 million young jobseekers over the next 20 years, this campaign is a call to action to bring East and West in support of our youth," she concluded.