Mideast youth unemployment in spotlight at Jordan WEF meeting

More than 1,100 delegates are expected at the World Economic Forum meeting in Jordan. (WEF)
Updated 20 May 2017
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Mideast youth unemployment in spotlight at Jordan WEF meeting

AMMAN: Youth unemployment is high on the agenda at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East and North Africa, currently taking place at the W in Jordan.
 
The WEF event, which officially started Friday, will today see Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II of Jordan address more than 1,100 delegates on the theme “enabling a generational transformation.”
 
The 16th meeting in the region brings together a diverse group of leaders to address issues such as humanitarian crisis and the challenges presented to employment and jobs by the so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
 
It will also address the gender gap holding back regional competitiveness and inclusion, the future of Syria and Iraq, and the way forward through economic and political reforms, a WEF statement said.
 
“As 31 percent of young people in the region are unemployed, new initiatives and urgent action are needed to realize this potential. When skilled talent is present — particularly educated women — it is not being deployed effectively in the workforce,” WEF said. 
 
A report issued by WEF entitled “The Future of Jobs and Skills in the Middle East and North Africa” found that few of the region’s economies are fully prepared for the impending disruption brought about by technological change.
 
The WEF meeting, which runs until May 21, is being attended by 10 heads of state and government, more than 130 public figures and 500 global and regional business leaders. 
 
It will host refugees from the Zaatari camp, who will meet with the WEF’s Regional Business Council to find ways to build on the success of free trade zones, allowing refugee-made products to reach markets.
 
The meeting will also feature a gathering of 100 startups from the Arab world, many of which “have been founded under the most challenging circumstances,” the organizer said. These startups include an Arabic voice-recognition software developer from Syria, the first e-mobile wallet firm from Libya, and a mobile game studio run by a team from Gaza.
 
“The current reform momentum in the Middle East and North Africa is promising, but success is not guaranteed. Together with our long-term partner Jordan, the World Economic Forum is hosting its biggest-ever meeting of entrepreneurs and start-ups in the region. We’re inviting them to advise leaders on new growth strategies that will bring prosperity and bolster peace efforts throughout the region,” said Mirek Dusek, head of regional strategies in MENA at the World Economic Forum.
 
Public figures billed as attending the WEF meeting include: Fuad Masum, president of Iraq; Sherif Ismail, prime minister of Egypt; Giorgi Kvirikashvili, prime minister of Georgia; and Felipe VI, king of Spain.


Philips to close its UK factory in 2020, with loss of 400 jobs

Updated 17 January 2019
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Philips to close its UK factory in 2020, with loss of 400 jobs

AMSTERDAM/LONDON: Dutch health technology company Philips said on Thursday it planned to close its only factory in Britain in 2020, with the loss of around 400 jobs, the latest firm to move manufacturing jobs out of Britain.
The move is part of a push by Philips to reduce its large manufacturing sites worldwide to 30 from 50, and a spokesman said the decision had no direct link with Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
However, the company said in a statement that it had to “pro-actively mitigate the potential impact of various ongoing geopolitical challenges, including uncertainties and possible obstructions that may affect its manufacturing operations.”
The factory in Glemsford, Suffolk, produces babycare products, mainly for export to other European countries. Almost all its activities will move to Philips’ plant in Drachten, the Netherlands, which already employs around 2,000 workers.
“We have announced the proposal after careful consideration, and over the next period, we will work closely with the impacted colleagues on next steps,” said Neil Mesher, CEO of Philips UK & Ireland.
“The UK is an important market for us, and we will continue to invest in our commercial organization and innovation programs in the country.”
Once a sprawling conglomerate, Philips has transformed itself into a health technology specialist in recent years, shedding its consumer electronics and lighting divisions.
The firm has previously warned that Brexit would put Britain’s status as a manufacturing hub at risk.
Chief Executive Frans van Houten last year said that without a customs union — which has been ruled out by Prime Minister Theresa May — Philips would have to rethink its manufacturing footprint.
Britain is set to leave the EU on March 29, and politicians are at an impasse over how to do so after lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected May’s proposed withdrawal agreement on Tuesday.
Other firms have moved jobs out of Britain in recent weeks, sparking alarm among lawmakers that Brexit is impacting corporate decision-making.
Jaguar Land Rover has slashed UK jobs — mainly due to lower Chinese demand and a slump in European diesel sales — while Ford has said it will slash thousands of jobs as part of its turnaround plan.
While both decisions were driven by factors other than Brexit, each firm has also been vocal in warning of the risks of no-deal Brexit, where Britain leaves abruptly in March without a transition period.