UAE’s goal of 1% unemployment requires renewed focus on 21stCentury Skills.
Dubai, UAE, 17 February 2015: A global expert on workforce education and training has welcomed the commitment of the Emirates National Development Programme (ENDP) to significantly reduce unemployment rates in the Emirates by 2021. Mr Frank Edwards, Workforce Development Director at Pearson, has said embedding 21st Century skills in the country’s education system will be crucial to realising this commendable goal.
The ENDP has said that it wants the unemployment rate of Emirati nationals to fall below one percent by 2021, in line with the country’s 2021 National Vision. The ENDP believes that encouraging Emiratis to join the private sector in greater numbers, and seek jobs in burgeoning industries such as healthcare, construction, education and logistics, will help to achieve this target.
Government efforts to reduce unemployment rates in the UAE have been largely successful to date, with unemployment falling from 10.7 percent to just 2.6 percent over the past 10 years. However, it is widely accepted that improvements can still be made, particularly in lowering rates of unemployment amongst those under 30 years of age, which are high by both national and international standards.
Mr Edwards, who has significant expertise in Middle East youth unemployment, believes that closer alignment between education outcomes and workforce needs is essential to improving employment statistics in the UAE. He says:
“What we are seeing as countries seek to align around the world is a clear gap between the skills and knowledge being provided to students in their formal education, and the capabilities that modern businesses require from entrants to the workplace in order to perform successfully in globally orientated, rapidly changing markets. Business leaders have done much, but more needs to be done and employers need to be working more closely alongside policy makers and education providers, across the entire education spectrum, to develop pedagogies, curricula and resources that provide today’s learners with an education that maps more closely to the business and the ever changing workforce needs of the future”.
The Pearson-backed, Effective Education for Employment study looked at the key challenges facing workforces in fulfilling the needs of businesses, industry sectors and economies in 25 countries around the world. As part of the global study, the UAE was selected as one of five countries for special analysis. The authors of a report produced as part of the study identified 10 key traits that business leaders in the UAE were seeking when recruiting employees, which included:
• A high level of emotional intelligence
• The ability to do the job they are employed to do
• The ability to communicate knowledge
• The ability to manage well
• Personal accountability
• The willingness to take ownership of the business
• Discipline in terms of delivery
• The ability to learn
Mr Edwards believes more can and should be done to ensure learners not only in the GCC, but other countries around the world, are being given the opportunity to learn, and practically apply these skills:
“Today’s learners are going to experience a variety of jobs and careers in their lifetime, many of which don’t even exist today. One way we can help them to thrive in the workforce of the future is to give them adaptable, useable skills that can be transferred across professions and industries. We cannot possibly give our current generation of learners all the knowledge and information that they will need for life after they have completed their formal educations. However, what we can do is to prepare learners how to learn, how to apply information and how to adapt. This is what will give them strong employability prospects in both the public and private sectors and maximise their value and potential to future employers”.