Rabat, February 24, 2021 (ECA) - The ECA Office in North Africa held on Tuesday 23 February a webinar on labour markets in North Africa, the impact of COVID-19 and how to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.
The meeting aimed to analyse the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on labour markets in the sub-region. The webinar took place with the participation of H.E. Taïeb Baccouche, Secretary General of the Arab Maghreb Union and Khaled Hussein, Director a.i. of the ECA Office in North Africa.
Taking the floor, Khaled Hussein called on the participants to use the webinar as an opportunity to develop practical solutions for North African decision-makers.
Taïeb Baccouche stressed the importance of activating cooperation between countries of the Maghreb and North Africa in this field and called for the development of a clear, integrated regional plan that can help harmonise national employment strategies and contribute to the implementation of the African Union's Agenda 2063.
According to the authors of the upcoming ECA study on "Labour Markets in North Africa: Structural Challenges, COVID-19 Impact and Roadmap to cope with Post- COVID-19", the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures set up to limit its progression have affected national labour markets in various ways depending on the country and impacting a variety of levels and sectors including trade, manufacturing production, transport, tourism, catering and the informal sector.
"Experts are increasingly concerned about the long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on education, particularly in developing countries less well equipped in technological infrastructure and communication", said Amal El Beshbishi, an Economist and head of the employment section at the ECA office in North Africa.
Indeed, the professional inclusion of young people is faced with multiple challenges in the sub-region, especially in terms of access to training and employment opportunities, the risk of dismissal for the less qualified and limited access to social protection.
“According to the study’s preliminary results, the percentage of young people in so-called vulnerable positions is particularly high in Mauritania (53%), Morocco (+60%), Sudan (60%), and is between 20% and 30% in the rest of the sub-region”, she added, stressing that women are particularly represented among vulnerable workers in Egypt (34%), Mauritania (68%), Morocco (61%), and Sudan (65%), while Algeria and Tunisia present relatively better performances with 23% and 14%.
Participants in the webinar considered several short- and medium-term policy options including:
- Adapting support policies to targeted sectors, the characteristics of the companies operating in them and diversifying available sources of funding by establishing various, structured and sustainable funding mechanisms,
- Setting up a temporary, post-COVID19 combination of wage and hiring subsidies in industries particularly affected by the crisis, with a special focus on employers willing to offer flexible working arrangements to their employees (flexible hours, possibility to work from home, etc.) so as to also reach workers that struggled to find jobs prior to the pandemic,
- The extension of social coverage including the introduction of job-loss compensation in order to reduce the impact of unemployment on consumption while contributing to the well-being of unemployed people and their entourage.