Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Mediterranean employment ministers want to promote an economy for the benefit of all

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Thursday, May 19th 2022 à 15:25 | Read 424 times

The meeting in Marrakech of employment and labour ministers led to the launch of two schemes in favour of young people and women: a Team Europe Initiative "Employment through Trade and Investment" and a UfM Hub for the promotion of employment, trade and investment.

Mediterranean Labour and Employment Ministers want better integration of social and labour markets (photo: UfM/Ainhoa Goma)
Mediterranean Labour and Employment Ministers want better integration of social and labour markets (photo: UfM/Ainhoa Goma)
MEDITERRANEAN. Meeting on 17 and 18 May 2022 in Marrakech, the employment and labour ministers of the member countries of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM)* committed themselves to "addressing the challenges of employment and employability for the most vulnerable people, in particular young people and women". In particular, they intend to "promote an economy for the benefit of all, through employment and social policies addressing their specific problems".

"We cannot talk about opportunities for the southern and eastern Mediterranean without tackling employment and the skills gap in the region and without consolidating our labour markets," said Nasser Kamel, secretary general of the UfM.

The meeting in Morocco on Wednesday 18 May 2022 served as a framework for the official presentation of a Team Europe Regional Initiative, called "Employment through Trade and Investment". It aims to contribute to the implementation of the New Mediterranean Agenda and its economic and investment plan.

This initiative will provide €2.8 billion to "promote innovative approaches to job creation in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean, by stimulating sustainable trade and investment, vocational training and skills, and inclusive entrepreneurship". The European Union, the participating Member States (France, Spain, Italy and Germany), their development agencies, as well as the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will contribute to this package.

Importance of women's economic empowerment

In parallel, the ministers launched a UfM hub for the promotion of employment, trade and investment. Funded by Spain and Germany, it will "provide assistance to UfM member states in the areas of employment and regional economic integration and help promote South-South trade and sustainable investment in the region," says a statement. It will also support and complement the objectives of the new Team Europe Initiative.

Describing youth unemployment as "a major concern in the Euro-Mediterranean region", Nicolas Schmit called for "strong policies to help them access the labour market, so that they can gain confidence and realise their professional potential and personal aspirations. For the European Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, "It is essential to provide young people with the skills they need to support the green and digital transitions, to strengthen the participation of women in the economy and to help workers in the informal economy to access formal employment and benefit from adequate social protection."  This fifth ministerial conference of its kind also highlighted the importance of women's economic empowerment, "as women are active drivers of the economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis", says a statement.

Roadmap 2022-2027

Nayef Stetieh, Jordanian Minister of Labour, calls for "increased coordination and cooperation efforts between the two shores to reduce the unemployment rate, with a focus on developing vocational and technical training, and related training institutions to include new sectors that would benefit youth of both genders, in addition to providing a safe and adequate working environment in different sectors and economic activities."

The ministers present asked the UfM regional platform on employment and labour to adopt a roadmap for the period 2022-2025. It will include seven points (see box below) to guide their actions.

In 2020, the NEET rate (young people who are not in education, employment or training) reached 30% in some southern Mediterranean countries and even 40% for young women.

* The Union for the Mediterranean brings together 43 countries, including all 27 EU Member States plus 15 countries in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region (Albania, Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Monaco, Montenegro, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey and Syria). It should be noted that Syria has suspended its participation in the UfM of its own accord since 1 December 2011. Libya has only observer status.

The seven points of the 2022-2025 roadmap
  • Focus on young people who are not in employment, education or training;
  • Explore innovative alternatives to make vocational education and training systems more modern, inclusive, attractive, flexible, labour market relevant and adapted to the digital and green transitions;
  • Promote the transition to formal employment for so-called "informal" workers, in particular women who are less likely to have access to an employment contract, lack adequate social protection and are denied certain basic rights;
  • Promote diversified and sustainable funding mechanisms to support education, training and employment policies;
  • Recognise the social economy, social entrepreneurship and social innovation as a resilient model for the creation of more decent jobs, in particular for the most vulnerable;
  • Pay particular attention to the proper functioning of social and employment policy monitoring processes, in order to better understand the impact of public policies, especially on youth and women;
  • Encourage and develop the use of "communities of practice", especially on youth employment, where national authorities can discuss and exchange best practices.

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