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ManpowerGroup (NYSE: MAN), the world leader in innovative workforce solutions and strategic partner of the World Economic Forum, participated this weekend in the WEF's "Special Meeting on Economic Growth and Job Creation in the Arab World," which focused on employment, entrepreneurship and educational opportunities across all sectors of the workforce in the region.
In the first of two roles in the weekend's public and private programs, David Arkless, ManpowerGroup's President of Corporate and Government Affairs, led a panel entitled "Driving Gains in Education" and was joined by the following influential leaders:Mhammed Abbad Andaloussi, Founder, Al Jisr; Morocco Omar Fahoum, Chairman and CEO of Deloitte Middle East; Hilal Lashuel, Associate Professor of the Brain Mind Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL); and H.E. SheikhAbdulla Bin Ali Al Thani, VP Education, Qatar Foundation, and Chairman, World Innovation Summit for Education, Qatar.
"The Arab world has experienced a period of enormous change and transformation," Arkless said. "We saw first-hand the determination and potential of young people to fight for change. Now, the focus must be on building security and stability in the region with a thriving economy and job creation. Young people must shape the future of the Middle East and North Africa, but we need to provide them with the right investment, education and training."
The International Monetary Fund projected the Middle East economy would expand by 4.4 percent in 2012, however, unrest has prompted an exodus of workers – shrinking the talent pool.
This weekend, Arkless also led a private session organized by the Aspen Institute's Emirates-Aspen Partnership, entitled "Women's Entrepreneurship as a Driver of Economic Growth in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) Region." Speakers included: The Honorable Madeleine K. Albright, Chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group and Chair of Partners for a New Beginning (PNB); Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of The Coca Cola Co., Co-Chair of WEF MENA 2011 and Vice-Chair of Partners for a New Beginning (PNB); Soraya Salti, SVP of the Middle East and North Africa, INJAZ Al Ara, and Co-Chair WEF MENA 2011; Ferruh Gurtas, Director of Corporate Affairs for MENA, Turkey and Africa of Intel Corp.; Arvind Sodhani, EVP of Intel Corp. and President of Intel Capital; and Tae Yoo, SVP of Corporate Affairs of Cisco Systems.
"As the Middle East is evolving rapidly, a new future is emerging with women as a vital contributor to the region's future," Arkless said. "It is our duty to remove the barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential. A combination of cultural perceptions, a lack of legislation and social programs and outdated stereotypes are all preventing women from fulfilling their true potential. The recent transformation in the Middle East-North Africa region has shown the creativity, passion and determination of women. We have seen women move from the sidelines to center stage in campaigning for change, and we must now allow them to enable a new dawn of regional growth and opportunity."
Key leaders at WEF-Jordan reinforced how talentism is the new capitalism in the Human Age, a critical principle launched by ManpowerGroup at the 41st WEF Annual Meeting in 2011, held in Davos last January. Professor Klaus Schwab, WEF Founder and Executive Chairman, explained this weekend how job creation requires education changes that will encourage more entrepreneurship and risk-taking. As the new world takes shape, it will rely more on talent and less on capital, said Schwab, who has advocated for talentism at several WEF events in 2011, including the recent WEF on East Asia, held in Jakarta.
The unemployment rate in the MENA region is double the world's average. One of four persons, age 15-24 years is unemployed, while only one of five women of working age is employed. Research from the World Bank, United Nations, andGoldman Sachs illustrates how gender equality helps reduce poverty and ensure sustainable growth. Regional statistics show that if rates of female participation in the labor force increased from their actual levels to predicted levels, average household earnings would increase by as much as 25 percent. The potential of women to accelerate growth in the region must not be underestimated.
"The region's success is jointly in the hands of policy-makers, business leaders and educational institutions," Arkless added. "We need real collaboration across all sectors, as it is our duty to provide women and young workers with the right tools to create sustainable employment."