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Symbiosis For Success: Bridging The Youth-Organization Gap In The Arab World A fundamental reassessment is imperative within the current employment system to align with the rapid evolution of the global job market.

By Deena Habib

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

In the ever-evolving landscape of employment, the traditional mantra has long dictated that higher educational qualifications lead to career advancement. However, as we stand at the cusp of a transformative era, it is imperative that we challenge this status quo, and propel ourselves into a future where skills, rather than work experience and academic qualifications, take centerstage in the employment process.

The conventional wisdom in the realm of job employment frequently centers on organizations seeking fresh graduates or youth working towards their education qualifications, with a stigma associated with hiring young individuals still in the early stages of university or school. Unfortunately, this mindset has unintentionally created obstacles for young talents who may possess skills, but lack work experience.

As the global employment landscape increasingly emphasizes a set of standardized "employment requirements," rather than acknowledging individual skillsets, youth from the MENA region find themselves entering the job market at a disadvantage compared to their global counterparts. According to the 2020 Arab Youth Survey, almost half of young Arabs have contemplated emigrating from the UAE, with 15% actively making plans to do so.

In the UAE in particular, opportunities for employment for those aged 16-18 are constrained, leading to various repercussions. The disparity and imbalance in opportunities for skilled, high school youth within the UAE imply that younger individuals might miss out on valuable work experience, as well as the concurrent skill development that comes with early employment.

A fundamental reassessment is thus imperative within the current employment system to align with the rapid evolution of the global job market. Technological advancements and dynamic shifts in business operations necessitate a departure from the traditional emphasis on time spent in the office and educational qualifications. Instead, a pivotal shift towards valuing skill sets is crucial.

Empowering the youth not only contributes to their professional growth, but also enhances crucial life skills. This transition to adulthood fosters responsibility, independence, and skill development, concurrently instilling financial literacy. Creating space for youth employment based on skills not only addresses the immediate challenges faced by the younger generation, but also positions them to make significant contributions to organizational projects, fostering a mutually beneficial relationship.

Related: Now Is The Time To Tap The Entrepreneurial Zeal Of Arab Youth

The landscape of organizational structure is gradually shifting towards a more horizontal paradigm, affording companies the flexibility to actively seek out and incorporate specific skillsets that may be lacking. This transformation presents a promising avenue for creating opportunities for the youth. Companies such as Amazon have astutely recognized the need to bridge this gap, with it having established initiatives such as the Amazon Student Programs, offering over 200 roles across various categories.

My company, Yspot, is an online platform that offers a transformative means to bridge the gap between the youth and organizations. Leveraging the capabilities of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) features, young individuals can now undergo skills tests driven by data. These tests, encompassing engaging and creative assessments in problem-solving, critical thinking, resourcefulness, and communication, can be tailor-made to align with organizational requirements, providing a more nuanced understanding of a candidate's aptitudes.

The implementation of these tailored tests therefore empowers organizations to precisely define the type of employee they are seeking, allowing the assessments to adapt accordingly for the youth. This merit-based approach ensures that the youth selected not only possess the necessary skills, but also exhibit a comfortable fit within the organizational culture and seamlessly align with the job description. By championing a skills-first approach, we open the doors to a more inclusive job market- one that values potential over precedent.

To deepen the connection, organizations have the opportunity to foster a work culture that integrates young personnel, characterized by dynamism and innovation. In such an environment, the youth can contribute their unique strengths, including interpersonal skills, adaptability, and honesty. To catalyze this shift in the organizational mindset within the region, there must be a willingness to place greater trust in the capabilities of the youth.

Organizations should thus perceive the younger workforce not merely as novices, but as valuable contributors capable of bringing distinct skills to the company. Their fresh perspective on the world, coupled with a keen understanding of technological advancements, positions them as catalysts for progress within organizations, propelling them forward in an ever-changing landscape. Embracing this collaboration not only enriches the organizational culture, but also ensures that diverse perspectives and forward-thinking ideas shape the trajectory of success.

The intersection between the youth and organizations presents a clear path to bridge the existing gap. By prioritizing skills, it necessitates a collaborative effort, marked by a mutual openness to innovation and a steadfast commitment to mentorship. This symbiotic relationship has the potential to pave the way for enduring careers for the youth within the organization, or bestow them with invaluable experience crucial for their professional growth. It's a strategic investment that not only benefits the youth but also fortifies the organizational landscape with diverse talents and perspectives to positively impact the overall economy in the region.

Related: How Mentorship Programs Can Lift Underrepresented Employees In The Workplace

Deena Habib

Founder and CEO, Yspot

As the founder and CEO of Yspot, Deena Habib, a proud working mother of two with a passion for technology, is on a mission to help revolutionize the way youth connect to businesses.

With a bachelor's degree in telecommunications engineering from the University of Kent in the UK, Deena plunged into her first role on a cable ship installing fiber optics, and since then rose into leading marketing roles with some of the biggest firms in the industry. She spent more than two decades working with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Dell, Oracle and IBM.

Passionate about public speaking, Deena was the official spokesperson for several of her past companies, and spent a majority of her time at large conferences across the region. Knighted “The Enthusiast” by Channel Middle East, and featured as a leading woman in Tech for the MENA region, Deena uses her technical background and passion for the youth to help them tackle their ever changing needs. She aspires to be a part of the world with unlimited opportunities that can truly empower the youth.
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