In advance of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia, Françoise Gri discusses the need to improve the regions’ workforce with the right mindset around training.

Arriving in Istanbul this week, ahead of the meeting, I was struck by the rich mixture of cultural, architectural and regional influences in this beautiful city. Turkey’s pivotal position at the crossroads of Europe and Asia has created great trade opportunities. However, this country still faces major challenges, along with other countries in the region, to overcome unprecedented change, complexity and upheaval.

Momentous global forces including the recession, rapid technological development, shifting demographic landscapes, and the rise and fall in power of emerging and developed markets converged to shape the Human Age, an era of great transformation identified by ManpowerGroup. These forces have profoundly affected young people, especially as an estimated 75 million young people are out of work worldwide. This crisis threatens to leave us with a lost generation, alienated from the workforce as they lack the skills and experience needed to drive critical national and global economic development. High numbers of economically frustrated youth can trigger social instability and unrest, as evidenced by the Arab Spring.

Yet despite high unemployment, companies are struggling to find people with the skills they need. One in three employers globally report difficulty in finding candidates. This leaves a challenging situation in the Human Age, where talent is scarce and has replaced capital as the competitive differentiator. The number of workers with adequate skills has decreased while the number of individuals with limited or irrelevant skills has increased.

In the long term, companies, governments and educators must continually collaborate to build a sustainable pipeline of talent across Turkey, the Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia – where rising unemployment and the number of untrained individuals could jeopardize economic stability and growth.

With my colleagues from ManpowerGroup, and as a World Economic Forum Strategic Partner, we are leading sessions focused on the youth crisis and the actions – particularly scaled and customized training – we should take to address the talent shortage to successfully navigate this new era. Key to this will be establishing the mindset required to inspire the innovative training needed in the Human Age, harnessing talent mobility across regions and incorporating underutilized pools of talent, such as women, into the labour market.

The velocity of change is increasing and there has never been a greater urgency to find solutions to the pressing challenges faced by the labour market in the Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia.

Françoise Gri is ManpowerGroup President of Southern Europe. She is a recipient of both the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur and the Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite and has been named in Fortune Magazine’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business – International for the last eight years consecutively.

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