May 18, 2022

Is English a barrier to employment in the MENA region‪?

Imagine you are sitting among your peers at work discussing new strategies crucial to your position. You are confident and well-experienced, but you can’t express yourself. This is because of a bit of language barrier. If you think of all the unemployed youth in the MENA region, we can pinpoint English as a common factor in their current state‪.

According to the ILO, MENA countries are facing the highest youth unemployment rates (25%)  mainly due to being the world’s most youthful population in addition to other factors such as “high labor force growth, skill mismatches, labor and product market rigidities, large public sectors, and high reservation wages‪.”

Another 2012 study undertaken in eight MENA countries by Euromonitor International (and commissioned by the British Council) pointed out that better language education could alleviate many employment-related problems‪.

If we delve deeper into this issue, we notice the region has one of the weakest English proficiency levels. Since the age of globalization is affecting businesses and the population alike, the skill mismatch between what it is required to open up to global markets and the existing talent is causing unemployment rates to spike‪.

Most of the MENA regions are low-income countries lacking an effective educational system leading to an unqualified workforce. What can we do to overcome this and upskill the region’s youth to keep up with the International job market and trends‪?

To start with, different stakeholders need to collaborate to develop the right recipe for success. Governments, educational institutions,  and private companies should work together to address the language barriers Arab employees and youth are facing‪.

While governments and educational institutions have been working towards achieving a better educational system through more sustainable e-learning environments, private corporations are still struggling to recruit and retain skilled talent‪.

The private sector is bleeding from a lack of skilled talent that can help in increasing business revenue and growth. More and more companies are giving attention to career development as a measure to change the narrative. Yet, the problem remains, especially with global economies connecting through the English language‪.

Many studies have been published on how acquiring English will directly impact internal and external communication, which can be monetized through better revenue generation. It will also create better employers’ opportunities to seek local talent instead of foreign ones. This automatically saves costs and decreases the current youth unemployment crisis‪.

Another essential benefit of investing in teaching English as part of career development is better performance and motivation in companies’ current workforce‪.

The question arises here on how can employers identify suitable, cost-effective programs to help upskill their current workforce‪?

Through our experience at Englease, we leverage technology to better assist companies in developing their workforce’s most sought-after language skills – English‪.

With our current model of online synchronous classes delivered by bi-lingual tutors and our flexible schedule, more and more employees are seeking our services to become more competitive in the market. We offer a CPD UK accredited certification upon completing the requirements within engaging content relevant to professions. So what are you waiting for‪?

 Mirna Mneimneh

Mirna Mneimneh

Head of Strategic Partnerships

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