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Human Capital and Mobility

Status: Active


    Countries Targeted

    Countries of the southern Mediterranean. 



    Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Anna Lindh Foundation, British Council, Club de Madrid, European Investment Bank (EIB), Qatar Foundation, UNESCO, UNINETTUNO, Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), Aix-Marseille University (AMU), and the World Bank


    Regional Context

    As South Mediterranean countries seek to upscale their contribution to the global or regional value chain, they are faced with the necessity of supplying the type of skilled labor that can produce these goods and services.  While in recent years Mediterranean youth have shown their impatience to become actors in their societies, structural obstacles such as the poor quality of education and obstacles to mobility, are preventing many youth from developing the skills they need to successfully transition from school to the labour market. Indeed, the youth unemployment rate in MENA is the highest of all the world’s regions, according to World Bank data, at around 26%. 


    The situation is creating a growing sentiment of frustration among the youth combined with a high level of youth unemployment, leading to social and economic exclusion, feelings of anxiety and a lack of hope for the future.   


    However, youth, with their dynamism and their demographic weight in the region, are a major asset and a powerful lever for transformative change and socioeconomic stability in the region. By examining and better understanding the region’s structural development constraints, in particular through the lens of human capital development, policy recommendations and initiatives can emerge to help youth play a fundamental role in transforming the region. 


    Various dimensions of migration intersect in the Mediterranean basin as people move around the region—in all directions—in search of safety, a better life, and greater economic opportunity. High youth unemployment and low returns on education in southern Mediterranean countries are two important reasons for migration of young people in the region.



    The main objective of the program is to promote socio-economic transformation in the region by improving the quality of human capital and fostering mobility of knowledge and people. This requires both concerted efforts to promote quality education and a rethinking of education to help education systems in the region produce graduates with the needed skills. 

    The program thereby aims to improve the quality of education, from early childhood through to higher education, focusing on 21st skills, and within it, to promote increased, smarter mobility, not only of people, but also of knowledge and skills.


    It is particularly focused on youth as the main asset and vehicle for change in the Mediterranean region, building human capital and skills, and promoting the mobility necessary for Mediterranean countries to adapt to the changing nature of work and transform their economies. The objectives of the work program are as follows: 

    • Improve the quality and relevance of tertiary education, notably by promoting increased internationalization 
    • Promote and stimulate debate and discussions around the new narrative on education, labor mobility, and employability to help enable youth become the engine of change in the region 
    • Increase the mobility of people and knowledge in the region


    Selected Outcomes

    Policy paper “Youth, Actors for Change: Rethinking Mobility” published in 2021: The third Cycle économique - a discussion series hosted by CMI - was launched in November 2018 and concluded in June 2020. It gathered intellectuals from both shores of the Mediterranean with the aim of proposing a new approach to mobility as a way to enable young people become the engine of change in the region, by contributing to a new discourse – around education, employability, and mobility – appealed for in the “Commitments for a New Ambition in the Mediterranean” made in the framework of the Summit of the Two Shores. A policy paper that lays out the specific challenges, identifies areas that require action, and offers a set of key actionable recommendations was produced based on the discussions. The policy paper and the discussions held in the context of the discussion series  aim to influence public policy makers in the wider Mediterranean region.


    This paper highlights the opportunities that a revisited concept of mobility can offer in responding to the aspirations of the Mediterranean region’s youth. The youth, by their dynamism and their demographic weight, represent a powerful lever for overcoming the obstacles which hamper the social-political, and economic development of the region. There is an urgent need to offer a new perspective to young women and men in the Mediterranean, so as to restore meaning to the concepts of “citizenship,” “participation,” and “work,” terms that hold the key to the great promises of our times. 


    Faced with a shared feeling of exclusion, mobility can act as a driver of empowerment and a means for youth to achieve sovereignty. First, mobility can enhance the personal development of youth, help them be more flexible in their outlook, give them a greater spirit of openness to the rest of the world, and help them achieve greater self-awareness and awareness of others. Thus liberated, they will have more tools to forge their own place within society. Mobility also facilitates the acquisition of certain skills required by the transformation of systems of production, such as innovation, adaptability, and cooperation. The mobility of Mediterranean youth must be revisited, notably in two main areas of action, labor markets, and education systems.


    Regional report “Internationalization of Tertiary Education in the Middle East and North Africa” published in 2020: The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region could benefit from increased internationalization of its tertiary educational sector, yet it has not taken full advantage of this opportunity. The CMI - World Bank report was conceived to provide a crucial baseline in research on internationalization in the region, and it maintains that internationalization of tertiary education is a critical part of the reforms needed in education and training in the region. The report details the benefits of internationalization, assesses the current state of internationalization of tertiary educational institutions across MENA, and provides some policy recommendations, including a first analysis of internationalization in the COVID-19 context. The report suggests that, despite the challenges that the crisis presents, it may also provide an opportunity for MENA to accelerate its efforts to internationalize its tertiary education systems.


    The CMI presented the report as part of the World Bank MENA Chief Economist seminar series (June 25, 2020). The report was then officially released during a virtual seminar co-organized by the CMI and the Qatar Foundation in January 2021, and its findings were discussed. Further ongoing dissemination of the report aims to stimulate the policy debate on internationalization in MENA in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.


    Regional policy dialogue on internationalization of tertiary education in MENA: In partnership with key stakeholders in the region, including the Qatar Foundation, the Tethys Consortium of Euro-Mediterranean Universities managed by the University of Aix-Marseille, UNESCO and the UfM, the CMI launched a regional policy dialogue on the internationalization of tertiary education in MENA. On the basis of its report Internationalization of Tertiary Education in MENA, the CMI co-organized two online events: “Internationalization of Tertiary Education in MENA in the COVID-19 Context” with the Qatar Foundation and “A Quality Higher Education for all in the Mediterranean: Towards a Renewed Higher Education Agenda” with the UfM, to offer a space for dialogue for representatives of tertiary education institutions and governments, decision-makers, practitioners and experts to discuss topics relevant to the improvement of higher education quality and relevance in the region, and to share best practices and recommendations, notably regarding the strategies and the responses developed to meet the challenges engendered by the COVID-19 crisis.


    Analytical preparatory work for a better-informed regional policy dialogue on migration and mobility in the Mediterranean: The Mediterranean has been, continues to be, and is likely to remain a critical region for migration throughout human history. The regional policy dialogue on migration and mobility in the Mediterranean needs to be better informed in order to promote orderly, safe, regular migration and mobility in the region. To this end, the CMI and the World Bank, with the support of other regional partners, have joined forces on the publication of a flagship report on “Mobility and Migration in the Mediterranean”. The report will present some facts on migration flows within, to, from, and through the Mediterranean basin, including economic migration and forced displacement, sometimes aggravated by climate change. It will discuss the varied, overlapping determinants of these population movements, such as income gaps, youth unemployment, demographic trends, conflict, and climate change. Finally, the report will review the policies designed to regulate cross-border migration, and will conclude with some strategic policy recommendations on how to foster orderly, safe, regular migration and mobility in the region, whilst accounting for the related economic, social and political aspects. This report, to be presented at the World Bank’s 2022 Annual Meetings in Marrakech.


    The report is being developed based on the outcomes of the experts meeting organized by CMI, held on November 5, 2019.


    Flagship Reports