Put simply, youth unemployment is an issue that the Egyptian government must deal with urgently, undertaking immediate reforms and directing its full resources toward addressing it. It is unlikely that reforms will solve the issue right away, but if the government’s focus does not fully shift toward dealing with the problem, it and future governments are very likely to face further instability in the coming years.
The problem of youth unemployment particularly affects university graduates. A labor survey conducted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Egypt in 2012 showed that the unemployment rate increased with each level of educational attainment. As Figure 1 illustrates, university level graduates have the highest rate of unemployment in the youth bracket at 34 percent, compared to 2.4 percent among youth with less than primary level education.
A big part of the youth unemployment problem in Egypt is driven by population growth. ere are signi cant demographic pressures as the Egyptian labor market is unable to cope with the number of new job seekers. e size of the youth population (ages 15–29) has increased from 13.3 million in 1988 to 17.4 million in 1998 and 22.2 million in 2006.22 Such demographic pressure increases the demand for jobs, and the private sector has not been able to keep up.
Overall, the ILO survey shows that almost half of working youth (48 percent) are in occupations that do not match their level of education, the vast majority being undereducated.26