ME education sector in need of massive investments: EDB
Manama, May 21, 2008
There is a need for massive investment in educating youth in the Middle East to provide them with the necessary skills for the workplace.
That was the call from Economic Development Board (EDB) chief executive Shaikh Mohammed bin Isa Al Khalifa to delegates at a World Economic Forum panel discussion involving top Arab experts at Sharm El Sheikh.
The session highlighted the role of the private sector as a major driving force for social development and in providing the key impetus for economic growth in the region.
Shaikh Mohammed said that by looking at the examples of smaller countries such as Singapore, Switzerland and Ireland, one can see that investments made in young people have created massive wealth, skilled workers and increased productivity.
'Singapore, for example, has limited natural resources but has still succeeded in overcoming these limitations to develop a highly-skilled workforce across various professional classes,' he said.
He pointed out that the region's workforce still depended on the public sector for employment even though, according to a McKinsey report, over the past 10 years, the private sector managed to create about 55,000 medium- and high-skilled jobs in the GCC.
The report further underlined that to absorb the number of GCC nationals with a secondary school degree or higher, the annual figure must rise five fold, to almost 300,000.
To provide a living wage, these jobs must pay at least twice what the private sector jobs offer at present. 'We can no longer sit back,' he said.
'Now is the time to think of our future generations - and the starting point has to begin with educational reforms. We need investments in vocational and technical training if we as a region are to avoid a skills crunch in the years to come.'
The EDB is a strategic partner at WEF. In a delegation led by Finance Minister Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, leading executives and government officials of Bahrain addressed a high-power gathering in several panel discussions to focus on its agenda for a number of key social and economic issues.-TradeArabia News Service