Youth Employment in Middle East and Africa receives a boost as Microsoft partners with Udemy

Microsoft and Udemy to provide youth access to online skills training for highly sought-after careers

To further promote youth employability in the Middle East and Africa, Microsoft has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Udemy, a marketplace for online learning and teaching. The MoU commits the parties to share skills-based course offerings available through the Udemy platform on “YouthWorks,” a regional network of youth employability portals led by Microsoft and Silatech. Last year, YouthWorks, or Ta3mal, as it is named in the Arab world, reached 8.7 million youth in Middle East and Africa.

Despite improving economic conditions, youth unemployment remains daunting in the MENA region and beyond. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimated youth unemployment in MENA at 28.3% in 2012 and expected that number to top 30% by 2018. World Bank data shows current youth unemployment numbers at 38% in Egypt and over 33% in Jordan. Despite being a leading economy in sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa has one of the highest levels of youth unemployment in the region, with almost 54% of youth unemployed.

Launched in April 2012 by Microsoft and Silatech, a regional social initiative that works to create jobs and expand economic opportunities for Arab youth, YouthWorks links youth to career guidance, soft skills and entrepreneurship training, online training, as well as internships and entry-level job opportunities.

YouthWorks now has specialised country portals developed for Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon, Palestine, Qatar, Iraq, Kenya, Botswana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Turkey. Silatech and Microsoft are regional co-partners, while at the local level, close to 100 partners from the non-profit, education, governmental and private sectors provide specialised content, job opportunities, and access to services appropriate for each country. Youthworks’ solution is not only to offer job opportunities to interested youth, but to formulate a platform to equip them with the necessary skills, including soft skills, to land and hold onto these jobs as well as providing them with a platform to share experiences and access mentorship and guidance.

Jeffrey Avina, Director of Public Affairs and Citizenship, Microsoft Middle East and Africa, says: “YouthWorks bridges the gap between the skills that youth have and the skills employers want. The partnership with Udemy will enable us to provide even more highly professional courses on YouthWorks, making it an even more effective platform enabling youth to pursue their dreams.”

“We are very pleased to welcome Udemy into a growing network of partners around Ta3mal”, adds Yehia Houry, Silatech Regional Manager for the initiative. “It is with the valuable contribution from partners like Udemy that we are able to provide youth around the world with the relevant knowledge and skills to increase their employability and improve their job prospects at no cost.”

Microsoft is partnering with Udemy’s Social Innovation program, which works with nonprofit, non-governmental and for-profit entities to increase access to critical training and skills needed to succeed in the global economy.

“Udemy is deeply committed to providing people around the world with a path to upward mobility,” says Udemy CEO, Dennis Yang. “Through this work with Microsoft in the Middle East and Africa, we’re able to connect a very important region with the vital skills needed for today’s workforce. We’re proud to have this opportunity to further open access to education and career skills.”

 About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential. For more information:

About Udemy
Udemy is an online education marketplace with over nine million students. Our course content and instructor community are constantly growing, with more than 32,000 courses taught by 16,000 instructors in 80 different languages. We offer students the ability to learn as they go and succeed on their own terms, while instructors have a way to share their knowledge with the world. For companies, Udemy offers a subscription to our best business courses as well as an easy-to-use platform to create proprietary courses. Founded in 2010, privately owned Udemy is funded by the Stripes Group, Norwest Venture Partners, Insight Venture Partners, Lightbank, MHS Capital, Learn Capital, among others. Udemy is headquartered in San Francisco and has offices in Dublin, Ireland, and Ankara, Turkey. For more information:

About Silatech
Silatech is a regional social initiative that works to create jobs and expand economic opportunities for young Arabs. The organization promotes large-scale job creation, entrepreneurship, access to capital and markets, and the participation and engagement of young people in economic and social development. Since being founded in 2008 by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Silatech has financed over 100,000 youth-owned businesses, created or sustained over 180,000 jobs, and trained over 3,800 youth-focused NGO staff. Silatech currently has programs in 15 Arab countries, including Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen. For more information, please visit