Building futures through youth employment across the Middle East and North Africa


Education for Employment (EFE) is a network of locally run non-profits prepares young adults for the workforce and commits companies to hiring them. The premise is that when young people have satisfying jobs and the hope of building a future, they help lay the foundation for peaceful societies.

The problem addressed by the campaign: 
  • The youth population in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is the largest in the world, and presents a unique opportunity for today’s employers to benefit from young energy and talent.
  • Despite the immense potential of the region’s youth, 87% of CEOs in the Middle East believe that the limited supply of candidates with the right skills will present the biggest organizational challenge over the next three years, according to the Annual Global CEO Survey of 2011.
  • Employers are having trouble filling positions due to lack of suitable talent, while 25% of youth in MENA remain unemployed – the highest percentage in the world.
  • EFE recruits and trains youth with skills in demand to place them in jobs using the following steps:
    • The employer identifies hiring needs.
    • EFE designs a training course tailored to the employer’s needs.
    • EFE recruits and screens candidates.
    • The employer interviews and selects candidates.
    • EFE conducts training programmes.
    • The employer hires successful graduates.
    • EFE provides continuing support, mentoring and networks for alumni.
  • EFE is proactive in training and placing women in jobs and aims for a 50% female participation rate in EFE programmes.
  • EFE has created new partnerships to offer support to young entrepreneurs starting micro-businesses.
  • 96% job retention rate among employers surveyed in 2011
  • 73% job placement rate from inception through 2010
  • EFE has over 700 employer partners across MENA
  • Nearly all employer partners surveyed reported that EFE-trained employees met their expectations and that they would hire EFE graduates in the future.
  • Corporate partners benefit from:
    • Increased recruitment capacity at reduced cost
    • Training in 21st century skills in demand at a subsidized rate
    • Youth with a stronger work ethic, ready to work from day one on the job
    • More retainable employees with the capacity to grow at the company
    • Ongoing investment in staff at no cost through EFE’s alumni programme
    • Visibility in the press and business community through success stories
    • Membership in a network of local, regional and international companies
    • Opportunities to highlight corporate citizenship
Why has it worked?: 
  • Local leadership, global support: Each EFE affiliate is locally run and locally supported, ensuring sustainable operations customized to the local context. EFE affiliates leverage resources and know-how through the EFE global network.
  • Powerful partnerships: EFE engages youth, local business leaders, corporations, educators, civil society and governments in partnerships that produce job commitments and entrepreneurship support.
  • Market-driven: EFE creates training programmes for areas of the economy that offer strong growth potential and opportunities for new jobs backed by employer commitments but currently lack suitably qualified personnel.
  • Job outcomes: EFE has successfully placed nearly 80% of graduates in jobs by actively encouraging employers to precommit to job placements and cosponsor our graduates.
  • Alumni support: EFE stays in close contact with alumni, providing continued support through mentoring, civic engagement events, alumni networks and international exchanges.
Conclusions and Recommendations: 
  • There is a clear link between jobs and political and social stability. Improving the employability of marginalized youth is an essential step towards a prosperous and peaceful Middle East.
  • Employers can support EFE by:
    • Hiring EFE graduates
    • Sponsoring EFE participants
    • Engaging employees as volunteers, guest speakers and mentors for youth
    • Partnering with EFE affiliates to design or adapt training courses that respond to hiring needs
    • Donating materials, equipment and other in-kind contributions
    • Becoming guest speakers or mentors for EFE
Foundational Issues: 
Critical skills gaps
Level of Collaboration: 
Level 4: Collaboration on a global or multistakeholder level
Middle East/North Africa
Economic and political context: 
  • In the Middle East, youth unemployment averages 25% and is widely seen as a key cause of political unrest.
  • The political change across the Middle East has provided the conditions for rapid expansion of Education for Employment.
  • Education for Employment focuses on the two things that motivated the youth of the Arab revolution: unemployment and a determination to change their society.
About the Author(s): 
  • The mission of the EFE is to create job opportunities for unemployed youth in the Middle East and North Africa by providing world-class professional and technical training that leads directly to career-building jobs.
  • American businessman, Ron Bruder, 63, set up the foundation. His desire to make a difference in the Middle East was sparked in part by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Bruder was compelled to investigate the circumstances and issues that led to the attacks and explore how to rectify them.
  • Bruder believes that stable societies can only be built if youth have economic opportunity and jobs.