According to its website, “The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is an intergovernmental organization bringing together the 28 European Union Member States and 15 countries from the Southern and Eastern shores of the Mediterranean. It provides a unique forum to enhance regional cooperation and dialogue in the Euro-Mediterranean region.” Morocco is a prominent member of the Union, and it is quite active in all of its activities, particularly in the area of “Youth employability and inclusive growth.”
In this area, its most visible program is called Med4Jobs, a flagship initiative “To help increase the employability of youth and women, close the gap between labor demand and supply, and foster a culture of entrepreneurship and private sector development. Currently targeting more than 100,000 young beneficiaries and supporting the development of over 800 SMEs from the region,” its advisers include experts from more than 20 international organizations and financial institutions.
Projects in Morocco reflect the pressing regional demand for jobs that will continue for at least another generation as the potential youth workforce greatly outnumbers available employment. Members of the UfM recognize that “full and productive employment” is vital for economic growth, domestic stability, reducing wealth disparity, and eradicating poverty. The rate of unemployment in the MENA region is especially unhealthy when combined with inadequate education and training facilities for available jobs, poverty, lack of adequate investment in new jobs, and political marginalization of youth.
Med4Jobs projects in Morocco and throughout the region focus on three core issues: improving employability of youth through demand-driven skills training; better matching between jobs in the market and job seekers; and generating infrastructure for enabling small and medium-sized enterprises.
There are 27 UfM coordinated projects in Morocco. Funding sources include the World Bank, bilateral donors, the Moroccan government, the private sector, and public-private partnerships. Among the 64 projects currently in play are those in community development, capital access for SMEs, education and training, entrepreneurship support, women in business, improving business environment, and youth education, among others. Total value of the project underwriting to date is some $600 million.
All projects involve several countries. Among the leading projects in Morocco is INJAZ, an NGO working in 12 MENA countries, providing youth training and education in work readiness, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship. A related project is supported by Reseau Entreprendre International, which provides mentoring to business startups to enable them to become SMEs. Using a model developed by Ecole de la Deuxieme Chance (E2C), a national coordinating office for youth advising is being set up in Morocco to establish regional offices to train trainers to liaise with companies, universities, and agencies in advising students. Another entrepreneurship-centered program is MaharatMED, which has achieved results in youth employability through courses and internships, with an emphasis on entrepreneurism.
A major UfM effort involves the Euro-Mediterranean University of Fes, started under the auspices of King Mohammed VI, and which specializes in upgrading education and research programs at all university levels, attracting students from the UfM footprint. The University encourages the creation of spin-offs and start-ups by stimulating research, innovation, and knowledge and technology transfer.
Morocco has also taken the lead in programs emphasize benefits to women and girls. UfM Deputy Secretary-General Delphine Borione has said that the efforts made by Morocco in the field of promoting women’s rights are a model in the region. Among many examples is the program run by the Association of Organizations of Mediterranean Businesswomen (AFAEMME) to promote self-employment and entrepreneurship among young female university students interested in starting their own businesses. Another is AMIDEAST, which works with non-university women to provide the knowledge, skills, and tools for entering the job market. This includes English language training, computer, business skills development, and job search tools.
By focusing on demonstrated results, cross-border projects, and addressing needs for youth regardless of gender or education, UfM will be able to generate models that can be scaled and sustained by local actors to ensure progress for the region’s youth.