12 Priorities for Action   

Investment and job creation, how to make it work

Attracting more investment and improving levels of job creation are key to stimulating economic growth and tackling youth unemployment in the Southern Neighbourhood countries. Improving the investment climate has been on the agenda of governments and donors for many years.  Countries have undertaken important efforts for investment, among others for modernising crucial infrastructure. Nevertheless barriers to investment remain. 
The workshop will discuss which are the most import barriers to be tackled and how this can best happen.  However not all investments automatically generate jobs, and not all jobs generated are sustainable. How to ensure their quality and sustainability?  Which conditions need to be in place to attract different types of international as well as local investment?  How can countries and companies be strategic when it comes to winning investment, by matching with investors that bring industry expertise, managerial know-how, and linkages to local business to the table? Meanwhile, what do investors want to see when they consider an opportunity and how can the private sector improve its attractiveness to additional investment? What role does finance play? These are some of the issues open for discussion in this workshop.

Unleashing the Entrepreneurial Potential

Entrepreneurship is gaining momentum across the MENA region, contributing to economic growth, both in innovative areas of technology and in the traditional economy.  The momentum is still restrained by issues such as bureaucracy, lack of access to funding and little cross-border operations. How can the ecosystem be strengthened to unleash entrepreneurial potential to allow start-ups to be set up, scaled up and SMEs to thrive, expand and create jobs?  What role can digitalisation play in increasing competitiveness and generating jobs? Can dialogue help entrepreneurs and governments improving business conditions? How can entrepreneurship flourish outside the main cities, in rural areas, and be inclusive across all spectrums of society, including among youth and women and minority groups? Are new business models, which take the wider needs of society better into account, such as social entrepreneurship or circular and green economy part of the answer? 

How to grow and retain talents  - making young entrepreneurs fit for purpose

Today’s job market is changing rapidly, with technical, business and digital skills ever more in demand by employers. Universities and schools can be slow to respond to changes in the private sector and employers complain about a mismatch of skills offered compared to those needed. Is it just about talents or also about grooming a work force for the challenges of a new economy in the digital age?  How can this gap be bridged and progressively closed? What role can the private sector play?  Many young entrepreneurs lack formal training to run a business. Can support from within the ecosystem, or targeted programs within formal education systems ensure that a lack of skills does not hamper potential? How can young talents now abroad be encouraged to contribute to innovation and growth in their home countries?  Which policies can help ensure that more youth are ready to join a workforce where innovation, new technologies and continued learning are vital for the future?