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Over 2,000 high school students from across the Middle East are being trained by volunteers from Deloitte Middle East under the Deloitte Injaz Al Arab ‘Be Entrepreneurial’ programme.

Deloitte volunteers in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, UAE, Bahrain, Palestine and Qatar have been facilitating business and entrepreneurial training programmes to the students since early 2012.

“With one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world, it is important for our region that young Arabs are equipped with business and entrepreneurial skills to create job opportunities and achieve long-term success,” said Omar Fahoum, chairman and CEO of Deloitte Middle East. “We are committed to help in closing the skills gap and digital divide in our communities, as an integral part of our corporate responsibility strategy.”

The volunteers under a number of skills building programmes, serve as mentors, bringing their real-world experiences to the classrooms in the region. Students are taught the intricacies of establishing and maintaining a profitable business, management skills, and presentation tactics as part of the first phase.

The programme will then culminate with a regional business plan competition, a statement from Deloitte said.

Deloitte Middle East will then assist in screening applicants and judging the business plan competition during which youth will present their ideas to business leaders and compete for start-up financing.

The curriculum will also be launched online so that it can be quickly scaled and reach students throughout the region, as well as young people outside the formal education system.

The Mena region is experiencing the highest regional youth unemployment rates in the world, according to recent reports by the World Bank.

With 60 per cent of the region’s population under the age of 30, the World Bank estimates that close to 100 million new jobs will need to be created over the next 10 to 15 years.

In addition, reports indicate that the Mena region spends more per capita on education than any other region, yet it still lags behind in employment rates. Unemployment rates are also higher for young women than young men.

In this regard, Deloitte Middle East has tailored a corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy to cater to the needs of the region, the statement said. The strategy includes a shift of focus to education that is closely aligned to employers' needs, and students' long term employment in a global knowledge economy.

“We find that the donation model alone, which is typically how CSR began, will not make lasting changes in society. Sustainability and societal impact are the only ways forward. Therefore, our CSR strategy at Deloitte is to address and tackle core issues for future generations in our communities,” said Rana Ghandour Salhab, talent & communications partner, Deloitte Middle East.

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