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Education system in the GCC region does not meet the needs of business


Ernst & Young study finds only 29 per cent of employers satisfied with the system

March 20, 2014 3:10 by

According to the preliminary findings of Ernst & Young study, Perspectives on GCC youth employment – presented today, March 19,at the Jeddah Economic Forum 2014 – GCC employers do not believe that the local education system prepares young people with the requisite skills, training and attitudes for the workplace. Only 29 per cent of employers feel that the current system prepares students with the necessary technical skills. The study also reveals that less than one fifth agree that it prepares young people with the right attitude for work.

The study indicated that, although work placements are a positive means of building relevant skills in young people, there is a very low availability of work experience programmes for GCC youth across all GCC countries.

Saudi Arabia has the lowest participation in work experience programmes, with only seven per cent of students having undertaken placements versus a GCC average of 30 per cent; the UAE fared better with 42 per cent.

In terms of preferred industries, the ICT industry is the most desirable across the region, closely followed by financial services. The majority of young people in Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE would prefer to work for the government. In Saudi Arabia, there is a 50/50 split in preference between the public and privatesector, and in Bahrain there’s a much greater preference to work in the private sector. For young women, the most desirable industries aretourism and hospitality, public relations and healthcare.


Across the GCC region, with the significant exception of Bahrain, young people are not inclined to set up their own businesses. This is perhaps the greatest challenge that the region faces as it seeks to diversify and grow the private sector.

According to the study, policy makers should consider adopting a six-point action plan to collaborate with educational institutions and the private sector:

  1. Prioritise the development of an entrepreneurship culture, ecosystem and underpinningnational support capability to help entrepreneurs to navigatethe system
  2. Establish national campaigns to inspire young people and change their attitudes towardsthe importance of starting a business or finding a job in the private sector
  3. Reform national skills and education models
  4. Encourage more work placement schemes for young people still in education, tobroaden their experience and develop their work attitudes and ethics
  5. Establish national apprenticeship schemes to deliver large numbers of practically skilledyoung people for vocational careers
  6. Improve career support functions in high schools and universities, since working with the private sector can help students secure jobs


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