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With unemployment among Arab youth the highest of any region in the world—climbing above 29 percent in 2014, over 350 leaders and practitioners from civil society, government, and the private sector have gathered in Amman to share innovative and effective approaches to addressing the region’s youth employment challenge.

Organized by regional social initiative Silatech and hosted by the International Youth Foundation (IYF), the three-day conference on Arab Youth Employment: Promoting Innovative Solutions to Longstanding Challenges was launched today in Amman’s Landmark Hotel. The conference is being sponsored by the World Bank’s Solutions for Youth Employment Coalition and the Americana Group. It is also supported by the Jordan Chamber of Industry.

The conference will give special attention to the process of developing successful youth employment policies and initiatives, and creating opportunities for practitioners to replicate and grow effective programs throughout the region.

Silatech Acting CEO Mohammed Al Naimi welcomed delegates from over 30 countries at the opening of the conference, stressing the importance of learning from the experiences of others in order to design programs and policies that directly improve the economic prospects of young people. He stated: “We are gathered here in Amman for two main reasons. One, to share our findings and insights about the effectiveness of various youth-serving programs and policies; and, two, to form collaborations and partnerships to scale up and replicate successful programs. Knowledge sharing and action must be linked closely together if we are to achieve real and lasting impact for the youth of our region.”

Said International Youth Foundation CEO William S. Reese, “We’re here to discuss current trends, gaps, and best practice approaches for providing today’s Arab youth with the training and support they need to succeed in the face of high rates of youth unemployment across the region. Experience tells us there are no quick fixes, but that by working together—combining our collective resources and expertise—there’s much we can do to create opportunities for an emerging generation of youth with much to contribute to their communities and nations.”

During the day’s first plenary session—“Rethinking the Youth Employment Challenge”— HE Dr. Nidal Katamine, Minister of Labor of Jordan, Dr. Omar Razzaz, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Jordan Ahli Bank, and HE Dr. Talal Abu Ghazaleh, Founder and Chair of the Talal Abu Ghazaleh Organization, discussed why the youth employment challenge has been such a longstanding and difficult problem for the region, and ways in which the public sector, private sector, civil society and the NGO community can work together to address the issue.

During the three-day conference, participants will share lessons and experiences about a wide variety of topics related to youth employment, including the following:

  • Innovations in youth enterprise financing;
  • Engaging the private sector for youth employment;
  • The importance of monitoring and evaluation of programs;
  • Achieving scale and resilience in employment initiatives through technology;
  • Partnerships in policy making;
  • Enabling entrepreneurship ecosystems and alliances;
  • Private sector-driven solutions for scaling up initiatives.

Contributing partners leading sessions during the three-day conference include the World Bank, the International Labor Organization, Oasis 500 (Jordan), Tamweelcom (Jordan), Mowgli (UK), Save the Children, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Beyond Reform and Development (Lebanon), the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (USA), Ahead of the Curve (Egypt), Tawasul (Oman), the RAND Corporation (USA), and Future First Global. Furthermore, policy makers from Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia are participating in the conference.