Conclusion: Perspectives for Further Discussion
The six GCC countries possess a great potential: about one-third to one-half of their respective populations is less than 25 years of age. So far, though, this vast reservoir of latent talent has been hindered by high youth unemployment and could turn into a “youth liability”. The analysis presented in this report indicates that the current employment system in GCC countries is fragile in light of its high dependency on external factors such as oil and gas prices and the presence of a large non-national labour force. Its most draining vulnerability, however, is imbedded in the internal dependencies created between young people and authorities that have been hindering the productive employment of a sufficient number of young people in the private sector.
The intent of this analysis is to encourage the implementation of systemic, forward-looking and daring solutions that can help GCC countries turn their youth bulges into “youth dividends”, that is, young women and men who are capable of driving the innovation necessary to build competitive and sustainable economies. Realizing this ambition requires rebuilding the system and creating a new, more sustainable form of social stability.
The integrated framework synthesizes stakeholders’ perceptions of the main causes of youth unemployment and analyses the system’s vulnerabilities. Concrete principles emerge from the undertaking, taking shape in the form of questions to be asked when designing interventions:
- Does the proposed intervention substantially increase the number of young people productively employed by the private sector?
- What does the systemic analysis of the internal dynamics of the employment system tell us about the outcome(s) of the intervention?
- What are the remaining barriers for young people to be productively employed in the private sector, those that can decrease the effectiveness of the proposed intervention? And, thus, which complementary interventions are needed to improve the effectiveness of the intervention?
- What might be unintended consequences – both positive and negative – of the intervention(s)? What measures and/or contingencies need to be put into place to address them?
- Will the proposed intervention(s) be effective and feasible in alternative future contexts?
- What external changes might undermine or favour the effectiveness of the intervention(s) to increase the number of young people productively employed by the private sector?
- What external changes might render the intervention unfeasible or un-operational?
There is wide agreement that youth unemployment is a systemic problem that requires systemic solutions. Tackling it will require courage, systemic thinking and foresight. The success of implementing these solutions also depends on multistakeholder cooperation and ownership rather than reshuffling responsibilities between the public and private sector.
Approaches that circumvent what is at the core of the challenge – the hearts and minds of young women and men – expose the employment system to greater costs in the long term: social instability and an economy that does not meet its full potential. That being so, redesigning the building blocks of the employment system and adapting the social contract to new realities are a necessary step to seize the opportunity of a young population and create a resilient system. In light of possible future developments, action today is needed to take advantage of the current situation in GCC countries, characterized by economic growth and large government revenues, as current oil and gas prices may not be sustained over the long run.
The World Economic Forum remains committed to supporting the region and providing an impartial platform for constructive and forward-looking multistakeholder dialogues on sustainably increasing productive youth employment.