Regional High-Level Meeting on Young People's Learning, Skilling, and Transition to Decent Work

Regional High-Level Meeting on Young People's Learning, Skilling, and Transition to Decent Work

August 15, 2023


The Regional High-Level Meeting on Young People’s Learning, Skilling and Transition to Decent Work was co-organized by the International Labour Organization, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Population Fund and the United Nations Children’s Fund under the UN Arab States Issue-Based Coalition for Adolescents and Youth. The transition from learning to work is a key priority for adolescents and young people across the region. The meeting brought together Government Officials from key sectors, private sector and UN in dialogue with young people themselves to enable an exchange of good practices, and to converge towards a shared vision to support young people’s transition from learning to decent work. It provided recommendations from the Arab States / Middle East and North Africa Region to the UN Secretary General’s Global Summit on Transforming Education held in September 2022.

Why was the High-Level Meeting held?

Levels of youth unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa Region are the highest in the world. In early 2019, before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, youth unemployment stood at 29.4% in Northern Africa and at 24.7% in the Middle East/ Arab States Region. Unemployment among young women stood at a worse level yet, at 40.3% in North Africa and 36.5% in the Middle East / Arab States Region, despite their relatively high levels of academic qualifications (ILOSTAT 2019). Covid-19 has exacerbated pre-existing bottlenecks affecting youth employment across the region.

The High-level meeting enabled:

a. An exchange of good practices relevant to adolescents’ and youth’s learning, skilling, and transition to Decent Work across the region.

b. A forum, and an active role for young people themselves to meaningfully participate and to shape solutions

c. Promoting a shared agenda across government sectors, private sector, youth, CSO and UN which will inform meaningful progress on these issues.


  1. Eighteen country delegations from the Middle East and North Africa attended. Delegations consisted of relevant government sectors (education, labour, youth), private sector, civil society organisations, and young people themselves. Delegations were led by government at ministerial level. Twenty-four high-level private sector stakeholders attended from across the region. In total, over 300 delegates participated in this High-Level Meeting.
  2. A Youth Advisory Group of 18 young women and men from across the region co-led the preparation and design of the high-level meeting and convened 3 youth-led region-wide round tables in the lead-up (one of them during the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development in March). During the High-Level Meeting they led two plenary sessions and played active roles in all sessions.
  3. The convening United Nations agencies were represented by the Deputy Executive Directors and Regional Directors from ILO, UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF.
Document Type
Regions and Countries
Sustainable Development Goals