Middle East Countries focussing on Vocational Education
Countries like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Oman have experienced an important economic growth in the last decade, especially triggered by a significant presence of natural resources and a strategic geographic position between Asia, Europe and Africa. Despite these successes, structural problems remain in Middle Eastern economies – including in their labour markets. For example, despite sustained period of economic growth, local labour has often been overlooked in preference for foreign labour because the education system does not provide the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the labour market. In part therefore, those education systems have failed to achieve desirable outcomes through a lack of understanding about the skills and knowledge needed in the labour market and a lack of understanding about what is needed by employers and industry.
In response, national strategies launched by each country set the development of local human capital as a crucial factor to achieve a sustainable economic growth in the long-term. For example, the Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 aims to invest in strategic partnership to ensure that the education outcomes are in line with job market expectations, and that public sector employees have the right skills for the future. According to the Saudi Arabia web platform dedicated to Vision 2030, these goals can be achieved through:
- developing effective policies that will help absorb students in higher and vocational education;
- developing modern educational curricula;
- developing training programs;
- forming councils from various industries and large private companies for new skills development; and
- Investing in strategic partnership with apprenticeship providers.
SkillsDMC’s Director International Development Services, Ben Rawlings, has recently attended a workshop promoted by Austrade encouraging Australian businesses to explore opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. One of the key areas of focus is education, with an increasing recognition that technical and vocational education is an area where Australian TVET know-how can have a significant impact, due to its successes in achieving goals like those set out in the Saudi Vision 2030.