UK aid’s approach to youth employment in the Middle East and North Africa

A forthcoming review assessing the relevance and effectiveness of UK aid programmes in promoting employment opportunities for young people across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

  1. Status: In progress
  2. Last updated: 20 October 2020
  3. Type: Full review
  4. Subject: Cross-government aid spend, Livelihoods and social protection
  5. Location: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkey
  6. Lead commissioner: Tarek Rouchdy
  7. SDGs covered:Gender equality, Decent work and economic growth

Latest news

We are conducting a review on UK aid’s approach to youth employment in the Middle East and North Africa. We have published our approach paper and we’re currently gathering evidence. We expect to publish the report in summer 2021.


Over half of the population in the MENA region is under 24 years old and a quarter of young people in the labour force are unemployed. Some countries within the region report that up to 60% of young women are not in education, employment or training (NEET), whilst nearly 30% of young unemployed people across the region have a university degree.

The youth employment challenge is exacerbated by both demand-side failures, such as a lack of access to finance, restrictive business regulations and cronyism which reduces the number of employment opportunities, and supply-side failures, such as education and skills that do not match labour market needs, making it harder for young people to compete for jobs.

Overall, the MENA region is characterised by economic and geopolitical instability. Economies face structural imbalances including large, inefficient public sectors, uncompetitive business environments and governance challenges, as well as high youth unemployment.

Within this context, sustainable economic development and poverty reduction in the region are closely linked to the need to create decent work opportunities for young people.

This review will assess whether the UK has been relevant and effective in promoting employment opportunities for young men and women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals relevant to this review are:

  • Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender equality
  • Sustainable Development Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth



Published 20 October 2020

Evidence gathering


Review publication

Expected summer 2021

Further scrutiny

Details to be confirmed