Five common myths about youth employability in MEA

February 19, 2016 • Top Stories

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Sixty percent of the population in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) is under the age of 25, and of these young people, one in four is unemployed. (Image Source:

Sixty percent of the population in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) is under the age of 25, and of these young people, one in four is unemployed. Part of the reason for this is a lack of necessary technical skills for the 21st century workplace. But beyond that, there are a few common myths that could also be preventing youth from landing a job.

Youthworks Implementing Coordinator for sub-Saharan Africa with the Microsoft MEA Citizenship team, Nduku Kiteng’e, shares five common myths around securing a job and how to dispel them using simple and practical methods.

Myth 1: Once you’ve got the right technical skills, it’s easy to get a job
It’s often the case that where youth have been educated, they still lack the softer skills or employability skills to add value and flourish in the workplace. Young potential employees need a wider skillset, including putting together a CV, preparing for an interview and dressing appropriately, as well as teamwork, professional communication (both oral and written), critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Youthworks online portals offer various online tests that help individuals assess their current soft skills and ascertain what additional skills they need to acquire in order to improve their chances of getting a good job. This is instrumental in guiding youth according to what employers are looking for and also which jobs best fit their personalities.

Myth 2: With a university degree, you’re immediately employable
A university degree is not a guarantee of getting a job. Employers are looking for specific skills and qualifications. Over and above this, the level of education taught in many local universities, in most cases, falls short in meeting the demands of the fast growing job market. Most corporates want to set the trend by adopting the most recent standards and technological innovations, which higher education institutions often do not have the capacity to meet.

The key to working around this is effective career guidance. This helps young job seekers ensure they are being trained in the skills that will result in meaningful employment or successful entrepreneurship.

Myth 3: To ensure you get a well-paying job, get a degree
Many young people feel pressure to pursue a specific qualification because of its prestige. While there is merit in getting a degree, it is just as important that qualifications match industry demand. There is often more demand for people with vocational skills, who can find themselves in satisfying and well-paid positions.

In addition, there is also a significant shortage of technical and artisanal skills in the job market. Serving an apprenticeship is a good way for young people to work with experienced mentors who can help them grow their skillset, fill a gap in the job market and earn a decent living without needing to have a university degree. Through Microsoft’s employability portals, youth can access mentors online, and participate in live communication and learning with them.

Myth 4: Internships aren’t relevant
Many people are under the impression that an internship programme is just about running errands and serving coffee, but a well-structured internship programme can offer youth a chance to gain valuable insights into their chosen field of work.

For many courses and degrees, internships are compulsory. In addition to providing insights into a career, it helps teach soft skills that are valuable to include on a CV. An internship can mean the difference between securing a job over someone with the same qualifications, but who has no internship experience and has not yet set foot in the workplace.

Employers should also consider other ways they can support youth employment. This can include identifying the appropriate education and training that both their companies and the economy needs, and finding ways to invest in the development of youth in these areas. School-industry partnerships can also increase the relevance of education and help ease young people into the working world.

Myth 5: Once you’ve got a job, you’ve made it
As the workplace has evolved into a rapidly changing environment, employers are expecting their employees to keep themselves relevant by constantly upskilling and retraining. This is important for young, first-time employees to keep in mind. Employers should have training and coaching opportunities available for their employees, and young people should take advantage of these for their continuous professional development, as well as to contribute to the growth of the company.

There are a number of online resources that offer additional skills training for various industries. Microsoft Middle East and Africa’s youth employability portals offer youth training in various skills that youth can use to ‘upgrade’ themselves.

The common thread running through these myths is that youth need to understand what type of skills they need to find employment. At the same time, their potential employers need to empower them with the opportunities they need to develop these skills throughout their careers.

How to land your dream job now
Some people think that landing a dream job is also a myth, but if you choose a career that is aligned to your attributes and interests, you are more likely to succeed. Passion is certainly a part of it. Visit your local Microsoft Employability Portal today to take a career assessment, connect with mentors and upskill yourself in your chosen field with thousands of online courses.

Is there a portal in your country?
Microsoft Employability Platforms are available in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, Qatar, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Botswana, Algeria, Ghana, Palestine and Turkey and will expand to 21 countries across MEA including Tanzania, Pakistan, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Mauritius.

Staff Writer



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