More than a quarter of youths in the Middle East and North Africa are unemployed, according to a new report published by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The Global Employment Trends For Youth study showed that the rate of joblessness among those aged between 15 and 24 years old hit 26.5 percent in the Middle East by end of 2011 and 27.9 percent in North Africa. On a global basis, 12.6 percent of youths were unemployed at the end of last year. According to the ILO, the number of youths out of work in the region has been increasing since 2009 and has been exacerbated by the political and economic upheaval created during the Arab Spring, which has toppled several governments in MENA. “In North Africa, the youth unemployment rate has increased sharply following the Arab Spring, rising by almost five percentage points between 2010 and 2011 and adding to an already very high level of youth unemployment in this region as well as the Middle East,” the report read. By 2016, unemployment among youths is forecast to reach 29 percent in the Middle East. However, the study predicted that those out of work in North Africa would actually fall to 26.7 percent. The ILO report also highlighted a significant gender disparity among youth employment in the region. In both the case of Middle East and North Africa, more than 40 percent of females aged between 15 and 24 years old were out of work, which the report attributed to a mix of “economic conditions [and] institutional factors such as broader societal values, culture and norms”. The ILO investigation also highlighted the potential impact of “social discontent and instability” on future rates of employment among Arab youths. “The regions under greatest threat include the Middle East and North Africa [and] parts of Asia... One of the most obvious manifestations of these findings is the increasing number of street demonstrations and protests observed worldwide since 2010, which have been closely linked to the Arab Spring and European sovereign debt crises,” the report noted.