The Middle East and North Africa Workforce Development Initiative (MENA-WDI) aims to assess both current and projected challenges facing the region in developing the workforce and the implications for peace and stability. Political and socioeconomic developments in the MENA region, particularly since the onset of the Arab uprisings in 2010, have heightened many challenges including sluggish economic growth, rising unemployment among a rapidly growing youth population, livelihood restrictions for refugees, and low workforce participation among women. The initiative's basic premise is that developing a robust and competitive workforce will enhance the region's economic strength; a key pillar of peace, security, and stability and a deterrent of violent extremism.

Purpose and Methodology

Our purpose is to draft a policy report or monograph detailing the challenges and opportunities for workforce development in the Arab Middle East and North Africa. During the research process we will:

  • Explore solutions for vocational training, youth employment, entrepreneurship, female labor force participation, and the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) on the workforce.
  • Review workforce development reports and initiatives by think tanks, development agencies, and other multilaterals.
  • Develop three case studies focused on Jordan, Tunisia, and Oman to highlighting existing national programs, successful initiatives, and best practices.
  • Hold stakeholder interviews and roundtable discussions in Washington, DC and at case study sites to record expert and policymaker views on workforce development.


Contents of Report

At present the MENA-WDI report will explain the issue of workforce development by addressing the macroeconomic concepts and focusing on the following issue areas: 

  1. The workforce nested in the broader economic outlook and the future of work
  2. Youth unemployment and female labor force participation
  3. Education and pathways to the workforce
  4. Entrepreneurship, small-medium sized businesses, and growing the private sector
  5. Role of diaspora in economic development

The report will present recommendations to the United States Government, governments in the region, the private sectors in the U.S. and in MENA, as well as the educational sectors in the U.S. and the region.