Middle East Public Sector National necessities - Education
There are continuing social and economic changes underway in the Middle East and effective education policy is central to addressing them. Around 60% of the population is under 30 years old and the labor pool of nationals and expatriates grows annually. This produces concerns about the balance between local and expatriate labor, how well prepared nationals are for the job market and, in particular, how well prepared, skilled and willing nationals are to enter the private sector. The private sector is seen as central to regional moves toward a diversified economy as public sector growth slows. Looking at the region’s three main economies, expatriates make up 94% of the private sector workforce in Qatar and 90% in Saudi Arabia according to BBC research, while Insead Business School estimates that Emiratis make up between 60% and 70% of the public sector but less than 5% of employees in the private sector.
An educated and skilled population is vital for sustained economic and social growth. Parents, students and employers in the region are demanding improved outcomes from schools, universities and vocational training. A growing population means that the public sector can no longer sufficiently absorb school and university leavers as it could in the past. There is a growing focus on the economic role of the private sector, yet there is reluctance amongst many in the local population to work in the private sector. There are concerns in the private sector about how well young nationals are prepared by schools for life after study. Therefore, educational reform to produce suitably prepared young people to enter private and public sector employment in more balanced proportions is a key issue in the Gulf region today.
In order to further develop a suitably educated population, many Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) governments are implementing major reforms, including new curricula, improved teaching standards, increased professional freedom and enhanced use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). Modern schools, colleges and universities are being built with increased investment from both the public and private sectors. The reforms are challenging. Implementation is not always fast enough to keep up with moves to a diversified knowledge economy. This white paper draws on research and experience from Deloitte’s Education and Skills consulting practitioners. It suggests and reinforces what governments and stakeholders might do to support national missions and ensure educational systems are equipping. This means how they ensure educational systems are equipping students with skills that enable them to build successful, diversified, and knowledgebased economies that address the skills challenge facing the region.