Between Expectation and Opportunities: Youth (Un)Employment in the Arab Gulf

Published on: 10/02/2019

by Ally Dunhill,

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Between Expectation and Opportunities: Youth (Un)Employment in the Arab Gulf

Published on: February 10, 2019
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This paper aims to identify successful employment projects for young people across the world and present an analysis of what these projects offer, in order to determine why they are successful. This paper will also identify skills that are being recognised as skills needed in for the future. To achieve this, I have systematically reviewed international publicly available reports that included successful youth employment projects and skills for future employment. The projects and skills in these reports have been described as being successful or show potential, in engaging with young people, transitioning the economy and increasing the employment opportunities for young people. The projects and skills for youth were then examined for possible application in the Arab Gulf countries to ultimately, be sustainable in the long-term. To ensure implementation of these projects and skills for youth could be considered in the Arab Gulf countries, a literature review was carried out to analyse the current views of young people, and identify a range of considerations when reviewing the sources and making recommendations. This paper concludes with a variety of possible actions that can be carried out to increase employment opportunities and match these to the needs of the Arab Gulf countries and the aspirations and expectations of young nationals.

The world population is increasing at an extraordinary pace. On the 15th December 2018 at 1200 hrs GMT, the world population was 7,670,275,895 (Worldometers, 2018). This population has a median age of 32 years, much younger than previous years. According to the Gulf Labour Markets, Migration and Population (GLMM) Demographic-Economic Database (2015) the rate of population growth of Nationals in the Arab Gulf countries, between 2010 and 2015, was higher than the 1.2% world average. The Arab Gulf countries had on average, a population increase of 2.2% during those five years, ranging from Bahrain, which has the highest increase in nationals, 4.2% through Saudi Arabia with the lowest increase of 1.4%. Over the same period, the GLMM Demographic-Economic Database (2015) identified an exceptionally high rate of population growth of non-nationals. This increase was on average 9.3% across all Arab Gulf countries. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) scored the highest with 16%, and Kuwait had the lowest with 3.7%. The Arab Gulf countries referred to in this paper are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The recent national population growth in the Gulf has created a large number of young people who have different aspirations from their parents, grandparents and possibly the State. An expanding youth population has primarily been characterised as a ‘youth bulge’ problem. German social scientist Gunnar Heinsohn created this term in the mid-1990s. The increase of this age range within a population is often perceived as being excluded from- or on the margins of mainstream political, economic and social processes. In addition, the number of young nationals in the Gulf gaining degrees has been increasing year on year, and these young people are expecting jobs that match their perceived knowledge and skills. The increasing number of non-nationals entering the Arab Gulf countries indicates that there are employment opportunities there. However, according to the GLMM Demographic-Economic Database (2014), only 29.6% of nationals in the Arab Gulf countries were employed compared to 70.4% of non-nationals.