EFE and Citi Foundation Launch Event Series Showcasing 6-Year Partnership

In labour markets where companies struggle to find the right talent due to a severe skills’ mismatch, EFE and Citi Foundation partner to provide young people with the exact skills needed to unlock economic opportunity. Since 2013, EFE and Citi Foundation have contributed to the socio-economic growth of Algeria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the UAE through labour market analyses, innovation, skills’ trainings, and career-launching jobs for youth. To mark our 6th year partnership, EFE and Citi Foundation are launching an event series on 2-4th July in London to showcase the work being conducted in the region to tackle the skills shortages. See full press release below or PDF here.


UK companies urged to help solve MENA skills gap and unemployment crisis-Investment in region’s youth can be key to expansion

  • Business leaders are today urged to invest in youth skills in key Middle East and North Africa countries earmarked for corporate growth post-Brexit.
  • MENA has the highest youth unemployment rate in the world.
  • Education For Employment (EFE) and Citi Foundation launch a series of events from 2-4 July to mark their work in MENA and the social investment opportunities available.

Youth unemployment remains an issue of global focus. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), one in five young people under 25 are jobless and have no skills. However, in some countries, the issue is becoming more acute.

Of all the geopolitical and geo-economic storms facing the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), youth unemployment is the most pressing. Half the population of MENA is under 25 years old, and their unemployment rate hangs at a staggering 30%. More than 27 million youth will come of working age in the next five years, putting even more pressure and competition for decent jobs.

Even though MENA countries are often put in one basket as exhibiting high rates of youth unemployment, they face very different problems and exhibit different outcomes. One key factor however remains consistent: As candidates filter into the market, it has become evident that they are ill prepared for the workforce, whether coming from a disadvantaged background or a more educated path. The problem cannot be solved by simply modernising education and labour markets.

For any economy to advance it needs human talent. So how do we build the human capital of tomorrow and prepare the future workforce with better skills and knowledge to succeed and prosper?

For Salvatore Nigro, Global VP & CEO Europe at Education For Employment –the leading international youth employment network in the Middle East and North Africa, the solution is quite simple: “Work with young people to give them economic opportunities and make them employer ready, and also help employers connect to local talent pools in order to become more competitive, expand and generate more jobs. Thousands of young people across the MENA are struggling to find their way in life – with many giving up all hope for the future. I’ve met young people who have been told ‘no’ so many times that they’ve lost the confidence to walk out of their own front door.

“This higher than average youth unemployment rate not only impacts social mobility and cohesion but is leading to a skills gap in the workforce and missed opportunities for growth. Turning these challenges into opportunities for companies to access qualified human capital is at the heart of our work.”

EFE is actively working together with Citi Foundation to address the deep structural challenges that have restricted job creation. “Thanks to funding and support from organisations like Citi Foundation, EFE can help young people get back on their feet. We help them find a job or even start their own business, building a future that they can be proud of and uplifting them from the poverty line”, says Salvatore.

With UK companies seeking expansion and opportunities in the zone and with the right investment strategy, they can make a huge contribution to the employment imperative and discover a plethora of opportunities in the process, including filling their own talent-pool requirements.

To mark their 6thyear partnership, which is part of the Citi Foundation’s signature programme - Pathways to Progress, EFE and Citi Foundation are launching an event series on 2-4thJuly in London to showcase the work being conducted in the region to tackle the skills shortages, as well as display to UK and international companies the opportunities that exist.

Carmen Haddad, Citi Chief Country Officer for Saudi Arabia says,“As young people continue to face high rates of unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa, it is an economic imperative that businesses open their doors and invest in developing the skills of young people.”

“Citi and the private sector have a role to play in helping make the next generation the most employable yet. One way we’re doing our part is through Pathways to Progress, Citi and the Citi Foundation’s response to the persistent issue of youth unemployment and our largest three-year philanthropic commitment ever. By 2020, we will invest $100 million to impact the lives of 500,000 youth (ages 16-24) globally.”

“More than ever, youth need access to a quality education that empowers them to create and contribute whilst developing their critical thinking, creativity and innovation. We will continue to step up efforts globally and in the MENA region to strengthen business–education collaboration and invest in young people’s future. Partners like EFE help us do just that. We are thrilled to demonstrate the good work being done together so far”.



About Citi

Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.

About Citi Foundation

Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyse job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation's “More than Philanthropy” approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfil our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation.

About Education For Employment (EFE)

EFEis the leading youth employment network in the Middle East and North Africa.By matching businesses that need qualified employees with young women and men seeking employment, EFE helps families, communities and companies in the region thrive. Since 2006, EFE has connected over 95,000 youth to the world of work, while providing 3,100 businesses with the talent they need to become more competitive and grow. Over 56% of EFE’s graduates are young women, reflecting EFE’s special focus on supporting women’s entry into the workforce. EFE runs operations in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Yemen, with global support hubs in Europe (Madrid, Spain), the US and the UAE.

Event series:

  • On July 2, "Youth employment common challenges for UK and MENA” – is being hosted by EFE, the Citi Foundation, and the Embassy of Morocco to the UK. It will take place at the Aga Khan Centre in North London.
  • On July 3, discussion on youth employment will be centre stage at the Arab British Economic Summit 2018. The session will consider the opportunities offered by tech, including AI and Big Data, in the MENA region. It will be followed by the ABCC Annual Gala Dinner at Broad Sanctuary, Westminster.
  • On July 4, EFE, Citi Foundation, The British Council and the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation will host a policy-makers breakfast at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Buckingham Gate.