MENA 4.0: Youth
MENA 4.0: Youth
Ideas for Change

MENA 4.0: Youth

Editor-in-Chief

Laura Del Vecchio

image

benjamin henon @ unsplash.com

If harnessed correctly, the Internet can help provide solutions to unemployment, information access, flexibility in the job market, and much more. However, in the MENA region, digital infrastructure is still precarious, leaving many individuals, mostly youth, out of training programs and, therefore, further inclusion in the labor market.
If harnessed correctly, the Internet can help provide solutions to unemployment, information access, flexibility in the job market, and much more. However, in the MENA region, digital infrastructure is still precarious, leaving many individuals, mostly youth, out of training programs and, therefore, further inclusion in the labor market.

According to the World Bank’s report, the ongoing geopolitical tensions in the MENA region are compounding high unemployment rates among youth, subsequently clouding the possible positive economic growth posed by the introduction of digital tools. As a consequence, this could reduce the opportunities to integrate young professionals into global and regional economies, and therefore negatively affect the local political stability.

The MENA region needs to address this challenge and bring training centers into the digital economy, balancing the need of integrating emerging technologies with training, capacity building, teaching, and learning methods. Governments in the region should work closely with decision-makers and the actors involved in generating training modules that allow for growth both in the private sector and financial system development, such as facilitating the access to technological tools to individuals that have been systematically excluded from the digital transformation.

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What if there is a tool that can help make this shift more seamless?

The Micro-learning Platform is a third party online provider of education and training with a modular solution that plugs into educational environments, enabling learners from all backgrounds to access information anywhere at any time. This tool can deliver and scale-up capacity building by engaging learners with specific learning programs that adapt to their possible future labor practices.

Currently, many companies are investing heavily in this technological solution, such as the case of Uber with their EduMe tool. Uber's initiative is available in 25 languages and offers interactive activities for onboarding drivers to achieve and learn the necessary inputs to execute their roles autonomously. The tool provides information regarding customer service, as well as codes of conduct that help drivers act lawfully.

Also, since 1963, The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) has been working to provide emerging learning solutions to institutions, organizations, and individuals to improve training programs and make them more inclusive. At the moment, UNITAR is developing Micro-learning tools that deliver unique vocational training experiences that deliver to users tailored activities.

Impact on Youth

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If Micro-learning Platform becomes mainstream, what impact would it have on this societal group?

According to participants, this technology could work mostly with entrepreneurs and become an exciting format for startups. Workers would have access to necessary competency/soft skills and, therefore, a higher chance of employment, especially for youth.

By leveraging access to literacy, this technological tool could also put increased focus on relevant skills and provide better adaptability to work depending on the needs of the future worker. For example, adapting schedules according to their daily routines, such as duties with family care and for young people living in rural areas who either cannot move or cover long distances to commute.

In the MENA region, this technology could provide unique learning opportunities without requiring learners to move physically, as the platform can give educational inputs remotely. On the same note, it could create opportunities to create platform economies, such as new business models with positive effects on both the recipient and the producer side.

3D slices

Sebastian Svenson @ unsplash.com

3D slices

Sebastian Svenson @ unsplash.com

However, all technologies have inherent dangers, and mapping them is key to minimizing possible adverse effects. One important matter to take into account is the content: who would produce it? Even if this technology could nudge household, medical, education, or job decisions, some participants emphasized the future challenge of dealing with information monopolies and the importance of providing diversified inputs to avoid possible content manipulation. A possible solution would be to make sure these platforms follow GDPR rules.

In the following table, participants ranked the potential further risks this technology could infer if proper risk mitigation actions are not put into practice before implementing this tool.

Mapping risks of Micro-learning Platform

Thomaz Rezende @ envisioning.io

Mapping risks of Micro-learning Platform

Thomaz Rezende @ envisioning.io

All in all, a regulatory body is necessary to make sure this technological tool does not negatively impact this societal group. Participants affirmed that existing regulations could enhance welfare in data management, thus keeping away actors that may misuse the data shared among this tool. It would also require the assessment of to what extent the current regulatory bodies could facilitate a successful completion of regulatory regimes. For this to happen, it is key to be clear with applicable laws and regulations to avoid malpractices, such as setting appropriate jurisdictions to avoid enduring historical biases in the data, unauthorized surveillance, and the spread of hate speech that discriminate against minority groups.

Future Perspectives

In terms of future opportunities and challenges, many concerns appeared. In order to make Micro-learning Platforms meaningful according to learners' competence, widespread and clear recognition of the value of diversified learning methods will be a crucial factor. While some platforms rely on prestigious colleges and the extensive quality assessment processes performed by highly skilled personnel, other solutions include digital badges and tokens that could include blockchain as a means to validate such courses.

3D burst

Luis Vasconcelos @ unsplash.com

3D burst

Luis Vasconcelos @ unsplash.com

These different approaches will need to unify their certification methods to include individuals that are ultimately excluded from quality training. Instead of simply evaluating and assessing learners according to their accomplishments through the activities provided by the platforms, content providers will need to reinforce youth capacity skills, present target group-specific content, and even enable additional tools to make learning even more meaningful, such as textbooks, complementary videos, Virtual Reality (VR) devices, etc.

While firms already recruit some of the best and brightest minds from the world's elite universities through Micro-learning Platforms, the public and private sectors will need to draw strategies to fill gaps in the market workforce. Besides furnishing learners with this tool, systemic work will be required, such as setting a good rule for a data-driven age, competition rules, inclusive tech infrastructure and connectivity, consumer advocacy, etc.

14 topics
Digital Economy
Digital Governance and Society
Decentralization & Local Governance
Education
Employment and Labour Markets
Higher Education
Inclusive Finance
Investments
Regional and Sectoral Economic Development
Public Finance
Private Sector Cooperation
Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
Social Protection Systems
Peace Building & Social Cohesion
5 SDGs
04 Quality Education
08 Decent Work and Economic Growth
10 Reduce inequalities
17 Partnerships for the Goals
16 Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

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14 topics
  • Digital Economy
  • Digital Governance and Society
  • Decentralization & Local Governance
  • Education
  • Employment and Labour Markets
  • Higher Education
  • Inclusive Finance
  • Investments
  • Regional and Sectoral Economic Development
  • Public Finance
  • Private Sector Cooperation
  • Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
  • Social Protection Systems
  • Peace Building & Social Cohesion
5 SDGs
  • 04 Quality Education
  • 08 Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 10 Reduce inequalities
  • 17 Partnerships for the Goals
  • 16 Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions