Politics & Economics

Youth in Libya call on government to create employment opportunities

North Africa

Many young people in Libya graduate from university and find themselves lost in the job market, citing the government's failure to support them.

In Benghazi, Libya, young people have called on the government to assist in creating more employment opportunities. Since 2012, unemployment in Libya has steadily decreased from 19%, the highest unemployment rate in the country since 2003, to 17.7% last year. Despite the improvement, however, Libya still has the second highest unemployment rate in the Arab World, according to the International Labour Organisation.

“I graduated two years ago and have not found a job yet,” said Awath Bargouthi. “First, I graduated and searched for a suitable job for many years. Unfortunately, I did not find one. The population [of Libya] is not big and our country is not poor. We live in a rich country with many resources which allow everyone to find work.”

The young people of Benghazi believe that the solution to the high unemployment in the country is to exploit the available natural resources in the country, which includes gypsum in addition to gas and oil. According to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Libya’s oil and gas sector accounts for 60% of its GDP. Moreover, oil, which Libya’s economy is most dependent upon, represents an estimated 82% of export earnings.

Substantial revenues from natural resources, coupled with the country’s small population, mean that Libya has one of the highest GDPs in Africa. Accordingly, young people in the country have petitioned the House of Representatives government to provide them with greater access to training opportunities within the natural resource sector.

“I graduated one year ago and have not yet found a job,” said Hajer Mohamed. “This affects us, the youth, negatively, be it males or females. Most of us migrate because we do not find work. Graduates are looking for any job but they do not find [employment] and this affects young people a lot. We are tired of unemployment, people are tired and frustrated.”