Saturday, February 5, 2011

You Can’t Get A Job in Egypt!

And that is one of the main problems. Despite the fact that there is an overabundance of highly educated young men, there is not infrastructure in the Arab world to support their trained workers. What a frustration for millions of restless, college-trained young people!

What results from that problem? Protest and riot. It seems like the only solution for dissatisfied potential workers.

Governments across the Middle East have expanded universities and educated a swelling cohort of youth, without laying the groundwork to employ them. In the Middle East and North Africa, unemployment tends to increase with schooling. In the U.S. the opposite is true. In Egypt, high school graduates account for 42% of the work force but 80% of the unemployed. One in seven college graduates in Egypt, Jordan, and Tunisia is unemployed; many more are overqualified for the jobs they have. Egypt’s unemployment rate in people under age 25 stands at 24.5%.

China and other booming economies are cultivating private sector jobs. Egypt has clung to a state-dominated model of economy. Outside of agriculture, 70% of Egyptian workers work for the government. The number of graduates has overwhelmed the government’s capacity to hire, leaving many without job options.

It seems to me and many others that the solution to the political unrest in the Middle East would be the development of a Western-style economy with free enterprise. Such an economy would enable businesses to create jobs that would keep restless hands busy. More jobs would allow people to realize some material benefit from the effort they have expended getting an education.

This post was excerpted from the Wall Street Journal 2/5/11, page A11.

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