Transforming the Job Creation ‘Challenge’ into an Opportunity

Transforming the Job Creation ‘Challenge’ into an Opportunity

January 30, 2013 at 10:01am

There were several fascinating points made during last week’s 7th MIT Pan-Arab Conference, entitled “Manufacturing for Jobs, Growth and Diversification.” GE leaders such as John Rice, Vice Chairman and President & CEO of GE Global Growth & Operations had the privilege of participating in this event, which left attendees thinking differently about one idea in particular: how we almost uniformly talk about job creation as a “challenge.”

As was discussed during the two-day event, job creation is a top priority for all governments across the Middle East and North Africa, irrespective of whether they are oil importers or oil exporters, or located in North Africa, the Levant or the Gulf.

The formal panel discussions left participants with a subtle, yet significant task: to turn the “job creation challenge” on its head. For rather than seeing job creation in the region (and around the world for that matter) as a challenge, policymakers, governments and government partners in the private sector would be better off seeing job creation as a tremendous opportunity.


Because of the sea of change in thinking that Arab governments are showing in how they are addressing this issue. Perhaps for the first time, on such a large and sustained scale, they are not looking to address this issue solely, or even primarily, by creating jobs in the government sector.

Instead, they are looking to a much more sustainable option: unlocking the potential offered by innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as economic diversification focused on manufacturing and exports. These three powerful levers can create countless good, fulfilling, private-sector jobs.

Pursuing job creation by unleashing the innovative and entrepreneurial capacity of this region is unquestionably an opportunity and one that will benefit all segments of society. The positive externalities are countless and the possibility of a virtuous cycle emerging from this cannot be discounted.

GE has been active in the Middle East for 80 years, and in this time, we’ve helped to empower the region’s workforce in many different ways. Just a sampling of our talent and capability building programs across the region include the Oil & Gas University in the UAE and Qatar; the Graduate Management Program for our energy businesses, evolved last year, into a partnership with Technical Vocational Training Academy in Saudi Arabia; the Leadership Acceleration for Business (LAB) learning center in Abu Dhabi, UAE; the Turkey Technology Center, GE Manufacturing Technology Center in Saudi Arabia and Algesco in Algeria.

So the next time you hear someone talk about job creation, remember it is an opportunity for everyone living and working in the region, and seeing it as such will only compound and speed realization of its benefits. What do you believe will be a catalyst for job creation? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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