Rabat – One major reason why Morocco’s economy is struggling has to do with the gaping, worrying gulf between employment prospects, and the number of graduates that Moroccan universities and vocational schools produce yearly, according to statistics from Morocco’s High Commission for Planning (HCP).
HCP’s assessment is also emphatic about the equally deepening disconnect between big, lofty government promises and the much more gloomy reality of Morocco’s employment market.
Starting in 2017, Moroccan education institutions have produced over 290,000 graduates. By contrast, less than a quarter of those fresh, opportunity-hungry graduates have been absorbed into the formal labor sector. Specifically, Morocco’s labor market has only generated a little over 57,000 jobs on a yearly base since 2017.
The discrepancy between the number of jobs created and that of job seekers education system pours into the already stuttering labor market every year, is hardly a new phenomenon in Morocco. The reality, however grim, has been part of the fabric, the functioning of the country’s economy.
But even with the sense that this is the way things have always been, HCP’s analysis of the yearly trend since 2004 suggests that the period since 2017 marked a particularly low point.
Since that year, according to HCP statistics, the mismatch has become wider and far more worrying. One reason, the report suggests, is that there seems to be no precise governmental strategy to reverse the tide, despite grand promises to lower the discrepancy by 2021, when the mandate of the current ruling party ends.
Between 2011 and 2017, the number of job created fluctuated between over 75,000 and approximately 100,000 (97,000 in most years), meaning that despite the mismatch the economy could still absorb well above 45% of graduates. Since 2017, however, that ratio has depressingly decreased to 20%.
This bleak reality stems from a mingling of contributing factors, according to HCP.
Factors include a glaring disconnect between the skill requirements of an endlessly shifting labor market and stagnant school curricular; mismarriage a between rapidly growing population and slow economic growth; as well as the contradictions of an apparently thriving industrial sector sustained more by automation than job creation.
Although HCP’s figures contrast with the more sanguine government reports, the body’s grim reading of Morocco’s labor sector comes with, as is often the case with bleak predictions in the Moroccan context, a deep sense of déjà-vu.
In early January, Les Inspirations Eco, a Moroccan publication with focus on economy and finance-related topics, criticized the country’s PJD-led government for its lofty idealism in dealing with unemployment.
While the government oozes confidence, promising that it would lower unemployment rate to historic low 8.5% by 2021, the reality suggests much more disheartening prospects, the newspaper reported.
Not only is the government lagging behind when it comes to hitting its unrealistic goals by 2021, but its prevailing denialism and complacent optimism may even be more frustrating for Moroccans than the recognition that things are really bad.
For both HCP and Les Inspirations Eco, acknowledging that the reality is far from the sanguine and optimism-clothed pronouncements from the government would spur the need for a thought-out strategy to avoid future collapse.
Other experts have predicted that failing to tackle the worrying unemployment may precipitate yet another series of boycotts and popular discontent.
“Even though the Arab Spring was nine years ago now, it’s still washing up on our doorstep. The political reverberations of it have not gone away,” one expert said last month after growth indicators once again suggested a cautionary tale for the Moroccan economy, despite an apparently strong industrial sector.