84% MENA youths feel private sector will continue to grow

Muscat - 

A survey conducted by Oliver Wyman in collaboration with Injaz al Arab in the MENA region, has revealed 84 per cent of the region’s youth respondents believe the private sector will continue to grow in the region. 

More than half (56 per cent) hold a positive opinion on the sector overall - a high ‘approval’ rate for the private sector given the dominant role of the public sector in many countries. The survey evaluated demands of the future labour market and perspectives of the young generation shaping the private sector’s potential contribution to overall economic growth.

While 40 per cent of the youth population believe future growth in the private sector will be driven by multinationals, 25 per cent are inclined to believe that this will be driven by SMEs.


As many as 35 per cent of the youth believe that privatising education will be beneficial to the economy, followed by professional services (30 per cent), human health (29 per cent) and agribusiness (28 per cent). One implication found in the survey was that despite the manufacturing sector being relatively small, it is where private firms are most beneficial due to the potential creation of high-skilled jobs and low dependency on imports.

When asked about the digital economy, 88 per cent of the respondents said it would be a major driving force of the private sector; however, 45 per cent also felt that digital skills are insufficiently reflected in the current curriculum.

“While the private sector has grown significantly over the last years, historically the public sector has remained dominant across the MENA region. Diversification is the key economic growth driver and the private sector has a key role to play in supporting governments’ efforts. Perhaps more important than its fiscal effects is that privatisation has the potential to offer a number of economic and social benefits,” said Greg Rung, partner and head of social impact at Oliver Wyman (MEA).

Rung added, “With industries across all sectors of the economy evolving through institutional reforms and an increased focus on digital economies by regional governments, the survey shows that youth are increasingly aware of the value of the private sector. They have clearly outlined the areas that need to be focused on as they enter the workforce in the current economic climate.”

The survey was taken by 949 respondents between the ages of 16 and 35 years and covered four specific areas such as demographics of respondents, private sector growth drivers and industries, challenges and successes of entrepreneurs and employees and implications of digital economy on education system.

The study revealed three broad strategic initiatives required by governments to sustain economic growth, create jobs in the private sector, and to reap the benefits of future digital economy. These include improving institutional capabilities and regulations, adapting the educational system to have a stronger focus on skills, and attracting domestic and foreign investments in key sectors.

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