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'Skills gap hampers development'.

Summary: International economic and education experts say underdeveloped skills, weak institutions and inefficiency in the labour market are hamstringing the region -- though the UAE is faring better than most.

International economic and education experts say underdeveloped skills, weak institutions and inefficiency in the labour market are hamstringing the region -- though the UAE is faring better than most.

One of the biggest global education companies, Pearson, said in a Press release that research the company had conducted reflected the major findings of a recent World Economic Forum report released in May which identified underdeveloped skills, weak institutions and labour market inefficiencies as the main factors limiting competitiveness and job creation in the region.

The report identified the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as the most competitive economies in the Arab World, though it said these countries still faced a severe skills gap that hampered economic development.

Pearson's Regional Director for Qualifications Mark Andrews said the problem was the "significant disconnect" between the educational system and private and public employers -- unemployment rates amongst under 30 year olds in some Arab countries are estimated to be as high as 30 per cent.

"There are deep-seated problems with the skill levels of those entering the workforce for the first time. Many school and university leavers who have spent years undertaking formal education are still incapable of effectively applying their knowledge in a real-life work scenario.

"In addition, many recent graduates, while possessing qualifications, do not have the capabilities employers are seeking. Industry consultation has told us that organisations across all sectors find it difficult to find employees with valuable workplace skills, such as acceptable English language, critical thinking, written and oral communication, and importantly, an attitude that allows for success in a competitive work environment".

The company had its own research project to examine the cause and effect of the disconnect between education and employment in 25 countries, with over 2,000 participants, sourced from governments, industry, educators, employers and learners.

The Press release said the project had found that many problems facing Middle Eastern education systems could lead to low workplace productivity and a lack of youth entrepreneurship and innovation.

The UAE is one of five countries examined in detail in the project, along with China, Brazil, South Africa and India. Research showed one of the biggest contributing causes of the skills gap in the UAE was the negative perception of professional or vocational education in the country.

Andrews said that while UAE graduates believed the best route to a desirable job was through qualifications, there was a negative perception of vocational or professional education in the GCC. It was critical that governments, employers and educators work together to make vocational training an acceptable alternative education path for young Gulf learners, he said.

"As the situation currently stands, there are just not enough suitably qualified candidates to fill a wide number of positions across all the major industries in the GCC. We need to convince people that vocational education can lead to well paid work. A quality vocational education can set someone apart in a competitive job market, because employers will recognise the person's". -- news@khaleejtimes.com

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Jul 14, 2013
Words:539
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