Assistant Secretary Jose W. Fernandez of Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business today said North Africa and Middle East has the highest rates in the world of young people without a job- with almost one-quarter of their youth unemployed.
At Conference on Economic Development Through Science and Technology Innovation in Morocco, Mr. Fernandez said that in emerging markets around the world there is a growing population of young people.
“They are brimming with energy and the desire to use their god-given talents in a productive way – to better their own prospects as well as improve their own country. All they need is a chance.” -Mr. Fernandez
He noted that many young people in developing countries are finding it difficult to find opportunities. He said employment prospects in many countries are not keeping pace with the burgeoning population of young citizens.
“According to the international labor organization (ILO), the global unemployment rate for 15-24 year olds increased from below 12 percent in 2007 to over 13 percent in 2009, the highest level on record. Over 80 million of the world’s 620 million economically active youth are unemployed.” -Mr. Fernandez
Mr. Fernandez pointed out that even though the ILO expects youth unemployment to decline globally, the rate in North Africa and the Middle East will continue increasing beyond this year.
He stressed that entrepreneurship represents one of the most promising ways to expand economic opportunity and create jobs for youth. He said many of young people are talented and would be willing to take risks if shown the way and offered the chance to succeed.
He emphasized that entrepreneurs are the engines of economic growth and job creation and the champions of change. He said they are individuals who take an innovation and convert it into a product or service, or develop a new process or production method themselves.
“Education, science and technology lay the foundations for the innovation that makes entrepreneurship possible. Entrepreneurship opens doors for women and youth and provides new economic opportunities for investors and established businesses.” -Mr. Fernandez
Mr. Fernandez highlighted that the Obama administration made a commitment to tap American expertise to develop opportunities and spur interest in entrepreneurship around the world. He noted promoting entrepreneurship exemplifies President Obama’s approach for broader and deeper engagement with people around the world.