A non-profit organisation championing young people in the region has teamed up with TikTok to use social media to open pathways to the hi-tech jobs of the future.
Injaz Al-Arab, which has been operating for 20 years across the Middle East and North Africa, will use the video hosting service's vast online presence to promote job opportunities with some of the world's biggest companies in fast-emerging fields such as artificial intelligence.
The 'Are you Future Ready?' campaign features 10 videos on TikTok, in which experts from companies such as Microsoft, HSBC and Metlife will give insight into their jobs.
The initiative is aimed at young people across the Arab world, with a focus on those in conflict-areas.
Akef Aqrabawi, president of Injaz Al-Arab, said organisations need to become more creative to be able to engage with youths now that most of them use the social media platform.
“Our young people are not exposed to what is available in the marketplace, because there is not enough communication between different sectors,” he said.
“There needs to be proper communication to be able to engage the young people from different ages, schools and universities.
“They need to be able to understand what is available in the market and what skills are required to match that, so they can put a plan in place.”
He said that his organisation wanted to adopt a digital approach to reach young people.
A new way to connect with the youth
As of last year, TikTok had one billion global monthly active users, with more than 37.3 million users who are Generation Z — born between 1996 and 2012.
Mr Aqrabawi said it was the “best way” to reach youths in countries where his organisation does not have offices.
“Since 2000, we've been able to take Injaz from Jordan to the rest of the Arab countries. It took us almost 15 years to establish these offices in the region,” he added.
“We kept a traditional model where we worked closely with educational institutions, but after Covid-19 we’ve been able to think outside of the box.
“We don’t have offices in Syria or Libya, so to reach these students, we’ve formed new partnerships, like with TikTok, to reach these young people who badly need access to such information to create a better future.”
For the past two decades, Al-Arab has been connecting youths in the Mena region to industry leaders, helping them gain access to training and mentoring programmes.
The company said on its website that securing meaningful employment continues to be one of the “toughest challenges” facing youth in the region.
“Even as youth under the age of 25 make up 60 per cent of the population, a staggering 29 per cent of them are unemployed across the region,” it says on its website.
“That’s roughly 50 million individuals who are unable to access the labour market, lead fulfilling lives and drive economic prosperity in the region.
“This has led to a looming sense of despair among Mena youth, less than half of whom are optimistic about their country’s ability to fix the unemployment problem.
“Although many factors contribute to the issue, it is clear that one major problem is the disconnect between the skills young people are learning in school and those required by the rapidly changing job market.”
TikTok is popular among young people for its wide variety of short-form videos, featuring everything from dance routines to lip-synching and trending social media challenges.
The company has used its worldwide popularity to support important initiatives, including in the UAE.
Talal Al Fayez, TikTok’s head of public policy for the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey region, said the company previously worked with the Dubai Chamber, with the aim of helping small and medium businesses.
In the latest campaign, professionals employed in “future jobs” will speak about how artificial intelligence, cloud and other technology is involved in jobs across different sectors such as banking and health insurance.
“We have the videos scheduled to be released on a rolling basis until the end of June,” he said.
“The videos will show not only what the future jobs are, but also from the horse’s mouth what industry leaders within these future jobs are saying, how to prepare and upskill yourself, so you will be ready for these jobs.”