Usman Ghani (November 1, 2013)
There are many factors that are leading the government as well as the private sector to come up with reforms and measures that lead to an improvement of the education industry of UAE. The UAE industry as we can see is facing great diversity in the education industry, with unemployment rates going up especially for the nationals of the UAE.
The expats due to their global exposure and innovative and skill oriented knowledge have gained an edge over the Emiratis and end up capping the best private jobs. The expats are able to understand global companies better and their education curriculum is stronger than those that the Emiratis get.
An increase in the income levels of the nationals along with the expats has led the UAE to create better quality services since people have become more aware and expect a better standard and quality of life than they had before. One of the needs that have largely grown due to this is the global awareness that people have come to have and also the urbanization that has resulted due to increasing income levels of the parents and students.
Since parents have now become more aware of education and know the value of high quality education and strong curriculums they have started investing in education more than before and a higher rate of parents now demand that their child studies in private institutes so they can meet the growing challenges and market demands.
Parents now pay greater attention to key contributors like the quality of the teacher and their level of skills, the standard and repute of the university as well as e extra activities and learning exposure schools provide. These changes in demand have led the government to make better arrangements for the needs of the parents and growth of better customer service in the education industry.
If the UAE’s education sector fails to provide its nationals with high quality education, then that is a poor service to begin with and can create a lot of problems for its economy in the long run as well as increasing reliance on expats for business decisions.
Private education has seen a growth in the last decade which has led to the improvement of the education sector since the high income levels and growing numbers of expats in UAE demand for it. The government has also given a lot of incentives and encouraged the growth of the private education in UAE.
We can see two major factors that control these efforts to increase the private institutions; one factor is the disparity between the employment levels between the expats and the nationals of UAE. The expats are given preference for private companies as well as Multinational companies, whereas the government jobs are for the nationals.
This has increased the level of unemployment of UAE and hinders the goal of UAE becoming a stable economy which isn’t based on oil profits. This influenced the government to increase the private sector involvement in the education sector, since the government feels the private sector will be able to contribute quality experience and standards to schools of UAE.
We see this as being beneficial to the education sector goals since the private sector will be able to increase the quality of the education and set bench marks for the private as well as the government institutions.
The UAE government has tried to give the private sector incentives to participate in the industry, by giving free land and grants etc. Numbers show that students enrolled in UAE’s private schools increased from 45.0 % in 2000 to 71.7 % in 2010, which is a clear demonstration of the private schools development and competition with the Emiratis universities that believe they have no competition.
The government is showing a lot of positive effort and involvement in the education sector and has come up with different reforms to measure progress and monitor change. UAE created a “five-point” strategy to improve the quality of education.
“Since its formation, our nation’s leaders have consistently supported the importance of higher education in order to produce a strong knowledge economy and also young leaders of tomorrow. As a result, the UAE has developed a world class tertiary-level educational system and infrastructure. Today, there are several higher education options in the UAE which are of international quality and standing, including the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT). HCT has nearly 20,000 male and female students enrolled in 17 campuses throughout the country, who learn in a technologically sophisticated environment that encourages independent and life-long learning skills necessary to success in a fast changing world. HCT graduates are eagerly sought by employers as they are capable of operating effectively in today’s global business environment. Our graduates make significant contributions to the sustainable economic and social development of the country”.
Dr. Tayeb Kamali
Vice Chancellor, Higher Colleges of Technology
“Quality education is one of the key forces in enabling the growth of GCC countries. The education sector is set to grow, keeping with the economic growth as well as the population growth being experienced by the GCC nations. While there are several private schools delivering quality education, the growth in higher education options is a more recent phenomenon and also has a lot of growth potential.
Private operators in the education sector face a number of challenges due to a regulated fee structure, high set-up costs, rising real estate costs and increasing salaries of quality teachers recruited from the international market. Attention from the regulatory body in addressing these challenges will provide a further boost to the education sector”.
Chief Executive Officer, Innoventures Education
“The education sector in the GCC is witnessing a period of tremendous growth. Rising population, higher income levels and an increasing awareness of quality education has resulted in a positive outlook for this sector. While a number of challenges like shortage of skilled teachers, high initial investment and running costs exist for investors, the education sector continues to be an attractive investment option. Although the private school market across the GCC is highly fragmented, it still offers significant opportunities for new investments and ample room for consolidation for existing players”.
Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Alpen Capital Group
Technical skills have become compulsory to master in today’s competitive age, where companies look for expertise and vocational training before hiring an employee. This is not only important as good education service but also for the growth of a country’s economy, since innovation and technical growth is what provides companies edge over another and helps them improve their own services as well as their growth in the sector.
UAE has faced many challenges when it comes to providing its citizens with vocational training which has become a back draw in their growth for excellence in education. Technical skill sets lack which affect the employment levels of nationals once again and make it harder for them to compete. Officials are trying to come up with ways to increase skills set by involving private and foreign companies, and having them help in improving vocational training.
The 2020 Qatar world cup is one of the biggest events Qatar has ever hosted and educational experts and teams are getting together to plan this huge event and bring the best out of it. Management is lined up with plans and strategies to set the ground for such a large event.
As the plans move forward educational experts are demanding for a skilled team and workforce to match the standards of the plan, creating a need for experts in construction and tourism industry. This has even led to an increase in the demand for skilled laborers who will be required for the extensive infrastructure projects set forward for the world cup. This has led to an increase in the need for professionals, especially engineers and architects, who already lack in the work force by great numbers, creating a challenge for the industries.
The problem of lacking a skilled force has also spilled into the needs of the World Expo, which has selected Dubai as one of the forerunners in the competition to host the event. The event will be attracting a prediction of 25 million people visiting the Emirates of which 70 percent will be from the outside of UAE.
Mr Mark Andrews, the regional director of qualifications for Pearson, a highly famous and reputable education company, said that projects planned for the world cup 2020 will lead to an increase in the demand of innovative and skilled workforce.
“There is little doubt that these events will be a substantial economic boost to both Qatar and the UAE, and lead to more jobs for both citizens and expatriates. However, the challenge will be finding enough staff to fill these new positions in a job market already suffering from a skills shortage. We need to start to focus on equipping more learners with the skills and qualifications necessary to fill skills gaps in the construction and hospitality and tourism industry”, said Mr Andrews.
“Pearson conducts regular industry consultation with employers who have told us they find it difficult to hire new employees with the competencies they are looking for, such as strong communication and English language skills, as well as IT literacy and knowledge of workplace etiquette”, He added
Mr. Andrews went on discussing the need of training the employees do they go be qualified enough to meet the gap in the education and employment sector. He mentioned a recent global study by Pearsons, which look at the lack of connection between the education system and workplace requirements.
The study showed that UAE graduates were not up to the mark of their employers and lacked in skill set and innovation that was required by them. The study also discovered that the basic and most wanted
Skills the employees demanded were; “Commitment, an ability to manage well, disciple in terms of delivery and personal accountability.”
“Pearson’s BTEC qualifications have been developed in conjunction with industry to better fulfil employer requirements. BTECs have a balance between traditional theory and practical application of newly learnt knowledge, with assessment based on scenarios learners will typically encounter in their future careers. This has made BTEC graduates much sought after by employers throughout the GCC and beyond”, commented Mr. Andrews.
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