News Column

IMF Presses Morocco for Reform

May 13, 2014

Siham Ali

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is encouraging Morocco to focus on youth unemployment.

During a two-day official visit that ended on Friday (May 9th), IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde called on Morocco to implement structural reforms that help boost competitiveness, improve the business climate and create more jobs.

Noting that youth unemployment figures were still high, Lagarde said the kingdom should develop "a prosperous and dynamic economy that will create jobs, especially for young people, who are a vital pillar of strong economic growth".

Young Moroccans are essential to the country's strong, sustainable and balanced growth, she added.

The challenges for Morocco now, according to Lagarde, are to achieve a high level of transparency in the public and private sectors, and strengthen the partnership between them, in order to create jobs and meet the expectations of this new generation.

She also highlighted the role of education in combating unemployment and the need to improve training to give young people the skills needed by employers.

Moroccan Finance Minister Mohamed Boussaid welcomed Lagarde's comments. "We are determined to move forwards with the necessary reforms," he stated.

Unemployment, however, continues to be a problem.

The High Commission for Planning on May 5th said that the biggest increase in unemployment from last year occurred among graduates, women and young people aged between 15 and 24.

While unemployment among non-graduates is generally no more than 6%, it remains high among graduates, especially higher-level graduates (20.9%) and graduates from faculties (23.3%).

And Moroccans are still waiting for the new employment schemes announced in 2012, sociologist Fatima Tahri told Magharebia.

"Graduates must be regarded as a priority when it comes to employment. It is not acceptable for the problem to be getting worse and worse. There is an urgent need to help them access the job market through parallel training courses and work placements. There is also a need to review university courses, which must address the needs of businesses," she said.

Employment Minister Abdesselam Seddiki says that the government is knuckling down to the task of boosting employment in Morocco. He acknowledges that training does not address the needs of businesses effectively.

The government has pledged to cut unemployment to 8% by 2016. To achieve this aim, he says, it will be necessary to adopt new measures to stimulate the job market.

Young people have high hopes that their situation will change. Hamza Taribi, 26, earned a law degree four years ago.

"I'm ready to retrain so I can work. I'm still waiting for the government's new schemes. The black hole of unemployment is unbearable," he says.

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Source: AllAfrica

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