In many countries of the Arab region, the relatively low level of economic diversification contributes to continued dependence on a handful of commodities, particularly oil, gas and minerals as main exports, along with exports in some labour-intensive manufacturing sectors. Lack of diversification in traded products, and in trading partners, results in over-dependence on these sectors, where opportunities for growth of productive and higher-value employment are scarce. Unemployment and under-employment results from insufficient economic growth, and also from poor alignment between education and training, and future labour market needs respectively. Incidentally, the Arab region has the highest youth unemployment rate in the world. Creating an enabling environment for new investment and job growth requires a well-trained workforce, able to continue learning and adapting to new technologies and work organization.
This Workshop provides an opportunity to share knowledge about whether skill gaps constrain trade growth in specific sectors and to share experiences on how to overcome such constraints as part of comprehensive trade promotion strategies. It will facilitate an overview of the Aid for Trade initiative; shared views from the ILO, the World Trade Organization, governments, employers and workers on skills for more and better jobs from trade; reviews of initial experiences in Egypt and Jordan in the ILO’s programme on Skills for Trade and Economic Diversification (STED); and discussions on regional prospects for integrating skills in trade policies to accelerate trade and to ensure a widespread sharing of the benefits of trade growth.