Viewpoint: His Majesty King Mohammed VI
We are witnessing the dawn of a new revolution, one in which we seek to rise to the challenge of completing the construction of modern Morocco. Through this revolution we aim to give Moroccans the life they deserve, especially our young people, whom I have always regarded as the country’s true wealth. In the speech I delivered at the state opening of Parliament, I emphasised the need to put young people at the centre of the new development model. I also called for the preparation of an integrated strategy and asked that special consideration be allocated to finding the most effective means to improve young people’s circumstances. We cannot ask young people to do their duty without making sure they have the necessary qualifications and opportunities. More importantly, we must enhance their confidence and give them hope in the future. Enabling young people to engage in social and professional life is not a favour. Every citizen, whatever his or her social background, is entitled to the same opportunities, a good education and a decent job. It pains me to see a high unemployment rate among young people, with one in four youths out of a job, despite Morocco’s overall economic growth record.
We cannot let our education system continue to produce unemployed people, especially in certain branches of study, where graduates find it extremely hard to access the job market. Many investors and businesses are having difficulty finding the skilled resources they need in a number of trades and specialised sectors. Many young people, especially those with advanced university degrees, are considering leaving the country, not just because of attractive incentives abroad, but also because they do not find the right environment and conditions at home for employment, career advancement, creativity and scientific research.
To address the chronic problem of ensuring that skills match labour market needs, and also to reduce unemployment, I called upon the government and the actors concerned to take a series of measures as soon as possible. First, by undertaking a comprehensive review of public mechanisms and programmes for youth employment to make them more effective and ensure they more adequately satisfy young people’s aspirations. Second, by giving priority to specialties which create jobs and develop an effective means of giving students career guidance to help them choose between academic studies and vocational training, depending on their abilities and personal preference. Third, by carrying out a thorough review of vocational training programmes to align them with the needs of businesses and the public sector, and to make sure they are adapted to changes in industry and trades in general. Further attention therefore needs to be given to vocational training at all levels, and to creating a new generation of centres for vocational training to young people, keeping in mind the current needs as well as the particularities and expectations of each region.
Fourth, by developing practical mechanisms to help achieve a qualitative leap in terms of motivating young people to set up small and medium-sized enterprises in their fields of competence, in addition to promoting self-employment and the creation of socially responsible businesses. Government agencies – particularly at the local level – should pay what they owe businesses, as any delay in payment can potentially lead to bankruptcy and the subsequent loss of many jobs. It is not possible that officials claim that they are leading by example if government agencies and state institutions fail to honour their obligations.
Fifth, by developing new mechanisms to help integrate part of the informal sector into the formal economy through proper, motivating training for people involved in the informal sector, as well as social security and assistance for self-employment and business creation. Lastly, we plan to establish a compulsory threeto-six month foreign language course at each training institution and include foreign language learning at all levels of education, especially in technical and scientific branches. Youth issues are not restricted to training and employment; they also involve a broadening of horizons, mental well-being and improved health.
I believe there are a number of sectors that can contribute to creating more job opportunities. Agriculture, for instance, can constitute a more dynamic source of employment opportunities and be instrumental in improving living conditions and consolidating stability in rural areas. I therefore recommend that we build on what has been accomplished in the agricultural sector and create more employment and income-generating opportunities to establish and consolidate a rural middle class. This will ensure it plays a balancing role and serves as a lever for the achievement of social and economic development. I urge the government to come up with innovative mechanisms in order to continue incentivising farmers to become more actively involved in productive agricultural cooperatives and groupings, and to seek training in the agricultural field. In parallel, I call for improved access to land for investors.
In the same vein, to boost employment, we should consider the possibility of having quality initiatives and global leaders involved in some sectors and professions such as the health care sector – which are not currently accessible to foreigners, provided the projects contribute to the transfer of know-how and create opportunities for young Moroccans with the right qualifications. Growing interest is being shown by many of the world’s leading clinics and hospitals that wish to invest in our country. There are tempting incentives which induce some students to remain abroad after completing their studies. I believe, however, that the initiative we are launching will help provide the right conditions for Moroccans with skills to come back to work in their country. This will create healthy competition and will ultimately improve service provision.
In 2017 I called for our national development model to be reconsidered and for a new approach to be devised to help address the needs of citizens. This would enable us to reduce gaps and disparities, achieve social and spatial justice and keep up with changes at home and abroad. Accordingly, some of the institutions and agencies concerned, as well as a number of stakeholders and bodies have prepared proposals and carried out studies. Through initiatives and reforms launched in 2018, I have sought to pave the way for future action, provide certain guidelines and create fresh momentum. Special emphasis has been laid on urgent issues about which we cannot afford to procrastinate, and on which there is a national consensus such as education and training, employment and youth issues, public support and social protection.
This major project is now ready, and we need to move on to making concrete proposals. In this respect, I have decided to set up a special committee whose mission will be to collect and sort out proposals and to draw conclusions, using a comprehensive strategic and instructive format. I expect the committee to report to me on the proposed new development model, specifying the objectives targeted, the proposed options for change and the means for actual implementation.
The stakes involved and the challenges facing our country are as diverse as they are intertwined. There can be no wait-and-see attitudes or narrow calculations about them. Morocco must be a country of opportunity, not of opportunists.
All citizens, without exception, should be given the same chance to serve their country, and all citizens must benefit on an equal footing from the country’s resources and opportunities for growth and advancement. More than ever, Morocco needs true patriots who have the homeland’s interests at heart, who care about the citizens and who seek to bring Moroccans together rather than divide them. It needs honest officials who shoulder their responsibility with dedication and selflessness. This requires a genuine sense of patriotism, collective mobilisation and a clear will to put the homeland and the citizens above all else.
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