EU and ILO to improve the employability of Youth NEETs in the MENA region

A new action funded by the European Union will enable the ILO to improve the employability of young people not in employment, education or training across the Middle East and North Africa for their successful integration in labour markets.

Press release | 24 January 2024
BRUSSELS (ILO News) – The European Commission (DG NEAR) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have just signed a new regional initiative entitled “Youth NEETs in Southern Neighbourhood countries” – Y-NEETs. The project aims at enhancing youth employability in eight countries across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA): Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Occupied Palestinian Territories and Tunisia.

The MENA region still records low levels of economic participation and productive employment of youth. Moreover, up to 30% of youth between 15 and 24 years old are not in employment, education or training (NEET), with large gender gaps. The educational and training systems rarely provide the skills demanded by the job market, which in turn offers limited employment opportunities. A regional imbalance in national employment policies and strategies further exacerbates these challenges.

Nevertheless, there seems to be an increasing political will towards the promotion of meaningful youth engagement in the design of employment policies, and youth integration in the labour market. The ILO is committed to accelerating this positive trend. Hence, over the next three years, the ILO will build an enabling policy and training environment for the employability of youth NEETs.

Drawing from the Youth Guarantee Scheme, the project will help countries develop employment strategies aimed at enhancing training, education and employment of this “hard to reach” population. This will be achieved through a Technical Assistance Facility, a demand-driven service targeted at ILO constituents. The action will support public employment services and their partners, with the objective to:
  1. strengthen the responsiveness of their services to the needs of Youth NEETs;
  2. improve their collaboration with other service providers, facilitating knowledge and coordination;
  3. increase their outreach of youth NEETs.
The implementation will be tailored to each country, based on available resources and capacity, and will take into account the gradual adjustments required at local level and in remote communities. It also foresees peer exchanges with other regions and countries experimenting with youth NEET schemes such as Western Balkans countries and South Africa.

Y-NEETs will build on complementary ILO-DG NEAR initiatives that are currently implemented in the Southern Neighbourhood, such as SOLIFEM and METI. It also reaffirms the ILO and EU’s commitment to promote the social and economic inclusion of youth, human rights, decent work, social justice and sustainable development worldwide, as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.