More than 400 representatives of public, private, and civil society organizations - and youth - from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) participated in the Youth@Work: Partnerships for Skills Development conference on February 21 to 23. Held under the Patronage of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, the conference was convened by the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and the Arab Urban Development Institute (AUDI) and was part of a series of learning events sponsored by the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Youth Employment. Additional event partners included The MasterCard Foundation, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Luminus Education, the Jordan Federation of Tourism Associations, and the Greater Amman Municipality.

The conference brought together key stakeholders for a dialogue on best practices and practical approaches to supporting youth employability. Its goal: to engage participants in efforts to build effective, scalable, and sustainable youth skills development projects across the region. In addition to the participation of top government and corporate leaders, young people played an important role—as moderators, panelists, and participants.

“The Middle East and North Africa region has the highest youth unemployment rate in the world,” said IYF President and CEO Bill Reese. “The conference cast a spotlight on what’s working to address this crisis and sparked a critical dialogue around how to scale up proven approaches.”

The three-day event also provided a platform for key announcements, including the World Bank’s launch of its new publication, Measuring Success of Youth Livelihood Interventions; The MasterCard Foundation’s youth employment and entrepreneurship program in Egypt; and the release of a new e-learning entrepreneurship curriculum, Build Your Business, produced by Microsoft and IYF.

New youth training programs in Jordan were also announced, including an initiative to employ 2,000 Jordanians, ages 18 to 30, in the tourism and hospitality sectors and the establishment of a network of career counseling centers across the country. These contributions were catalyzed by USAID’s support for Youth:Work Jordan, a five-year initiative of USAID, IYF, and the Jordanian Ministry of Social Development that helps to create an enabling environment for disadvantaged youth.