The Challenge of Youth Inclusion in Morocco

May 14, 2012

New World Bank Report Gives Moroccan Youth a Voice

Rabat, May 14 2012– A new report from the World Bank finds that almost half of all Moroccan youth between the ages of 15 and 29 are neither working, nor in school. Promoting Youth Opportunities and Participation in Morocco examines the causes for this widespread inactivity, and offers a series of proposals for supporting greater inclusion of young people into the social and economic life of the country.

Based on innovative research that focuses directly on the personal views and experiences of young people, the report presents one of the most comprehensive analyses of youth issues in Morocco. It also highlights the critical issue of inactivity – not just unemployment – among youth in Morocco. The research surveyed 2,000 households across the country and interviews were conducted with 2,883 young people living in those households. In addition, numerous focus groups were held to record the aspirations of a diverse cross section of the country’s youth and to identify the barriers that are holding them back.

“Young people in Morocco are full of ideas and are keen to contribute to society,” says World Bank Social Scientist, Gloria La Cava, the leader of the team that produced the report. “But they have been excluded from opportunities, have not benefitted from the last decade of economic growth, and have very limited voice in the decision-making process.”

The results of the research, which also reviewed current youth-related programs and institutions, form the basis of a menu of potential policy options. The authors, including Lead Poverty Economist Tara Vishwanath, have complemented these proposals with examples of successful approaches drawn from international experience in similar circumstances. Among its recommendations, the report emphasizes that young people themselves must be part of the solution as active participants in the design and evaluation of programs established to address their needs.

The report was supported by Silatech, a Doha-based social initiative which aims to connect young people in the Arab world with employment and enterprise opportunities.

“Effective public policy must be grounded in a foundation of solid research and the documented evidence of past experience,” said Silatech CEO Dr. Tarik Yousef. “The Moroccan experience with youth employment policy, as evidenced in this report, provides important lessons for governments across the region. We are proud to have supported this World Bank study, and commend the Government of Morocco for sharing its experiences with others in the region.”

The report examines Morocco at the height of its youth population bulge. Young people (aged 15 to 29) make up 30 percent of the total population and 40 percent of the working-age population (aged 15 to 64). In any country where the economy was growing and generating jobs this would be a demographic gift. But the innovation and productivity of Morocco’s large youth population could be an engine of growth as well as an ongoing economic stimulus from this sizeable source of aggregate demand.

For this vital human resource to achieve its full potential requires the right environment and this has proved to be a challenge in Morocco. Young people face numerous obstacles, including limited access to French language competency in the public school system which is attended by the majority of young Moroccans. This immediately restricts a large segment of the youth population from access to key economic opportunities in the private sector, where French language skills are preferable.

Current youth unemployment programs suffer from similar disparities, with the majority of these programs directed at graduates with tertiary degrees. But these graduates represent just 5 percent of total youth unemployment in Morocco, leaving the remaining unemployed young people, who have lower education levels, with limited services.

Women face additional cultural barriers with the result that gender disparities in the labor force are also glaring. The unemployment rates for young women are almost twice as high as those for young men, and an overwhelming majority of young women not attending school are inactive in the labor market.

Qualitative analysis of the report’s findings suggests that the social cost of economic exclusion is high, with young men in particular experiencing very high levels of frustration.  

The report also indicates that recent changes in Morocco suggest both the potential and the will to meet these challenges. The creation of the Conseil Consultatif pour la Jeunesse et l'Action Sociale, the new National Integrated Youth Strategy, and the emerging partnerships between the public, private and NGO sectors all show great promise in giving young people in Morocco a more prominent social and economic role.

These initiatives are models of social and economic inclusion which can be expanded upon.  Direct youth participation in the development and implementation of the current national youth strategy can be strengthened. In line with the National Integrated Youth Strategy, measures are also needed to improve existing services and offer new ones that promote access to the right skills, employability, youth entrepreneurship, and active youth participation in all aspects of society.  

“Youth represent the future of Morocco and overcoming youth exclusion can have a significant impact on the country’s development and prosperity,” says Inger Andersen, the World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa region, “The report is a useful guide for policy-makers on how to integrate the challenge of youth inclusion into Morocco’s broader social and economic agenda.”

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