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What are Egypt's job-seekers facing?

With almost a quarter of Egypt’s youth unemployed, more than 70% of Egyptians are unhappy with the economic conditions.

The Center for Universal Education at Brookings released a report this month, entitled “Arab Youth: Missing Educational Foundations for a Productive Life?”

The question posed in the headline is one of serious weight, since the Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014 revealed that Egypt has the worst primary education worldwide and since the gap between labor-skills and market-demand is often blamed for the unemployment rate - which currently lies at 13.5%.

“In Egypt in the mid-1970s, about 80 percent of first job seekers, both men and women, found employment in government or public enterprises (UNESCO 2012). But such opportunities no longer exist. Together, these supply and demand factors have resulted in high unemployment rates,” Brookings explains.

In contrast, 28% of today’s job-finders get formal sector jobs, of which 18% are in the public sector and 10% in the formal private sector. According to the report, the remaining 72% head for the informal micro and small-scale sector (MSE), which is famous for the lack of labor contracts, job security and social benefits.

However, women’s employment in MSEs remains low at 11.4%, with half of them being under 25 years. Additionally, more than 50% of young women are unemployed, compared with 14.7% for men.

The report also stated that 16% of young Egyptian women and 7% of Egypt’s young men have less than two years of education. Primary school enrollment lay at 94% in 2010/2011, and its survival rate was at 99%.

Youth Unemployment Rates in the Arab World - Table by Brookings