About 54% of employees worldwide need reskilling in the aftermath of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat.
She noted that the global pandemic has caused high unemployment rates worldwide, with the disruption providing the opportunity to reskill employees in a way that promotes a sustainable and inclusive economy.
“The true challenge from the pandemic is that more than 195 million jobs were lost globally, and from the estimate that the WEF puts out,” Al-Mashat said, “I find that Egypt’s young population, which constitutes 60% of the total population, is a major opportunity.”
Her remarks came during her participation in “The Jobs Reset Summit: Building a New Economy and Society”, a webinar series organised by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The webinar was moderated by WEF President Borge Brende, with Unilever CEO Alan Jope and Bridgewater Associates Founder Ray Dalio also participating.
During the series, Minister Al-Mashat spoke about Egypt’s initiatives for building capabilities for the future of work.
She elaborated on how Egypt’s education system has evolved into a more tech-based learning system, and how the future of jobs require tech savvy workers.
The minister mentioned ongoing projects that are taking place in Egypt, such as the Youth Enablement for Freelancing Initiative, which aims to train 20,000 young people nationwide on freelancing skills, through e-platforms.
The initiative has been put in place in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, through the integrated community centres set up by the Ministry of Communication and Informational Technology. Of the number of trainees inducted, Persons with Disabilities make 10% of the total.
The Egyptian government has made extensive efforts to reshape the country’s education system, increasing the facilities for technological tools to be used as part of the learning process.
As these developments were already in action before the pandemic hit, homeschooling and resorting to online education and work was important to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, particularly considering Egypt’s population size.
Minister Al-Mashat explained that the Ministry of Communication and Informational Technology has put in place several initiatives related to reskilling youth and providing them with technological advancements. She noted that this represents digital entrepreneurial space.
The minister also gave the example of Egypt’s new cities, such as the New Administrative Capital (NAC), which provides a landscape for foreign companies and the private sector to employ youth.
“We are trying to show where that potential is so the firms that come in and create the job opportunities manage to find the labour force with the necessary skills,” she said.
This change in work environments also includes women. Minister Al-Mashat has previously reiterated that the inclusion of women is necessary for economic growth and development. Egypt was the first country in the region to launch the “Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator”, which aims to close the economic gender gaps.
For his part, Brende said that economies need to make sure that economic growth is inclusive, sustainable and creates necessary jobs.
Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever, said economies need to invest more in skills and training, adding, “We need to start bringing social and environmental issues to the fore. We also cannot spend resources propping up the jobs of the past, we need to invest in skills and training.”