Only half of state-educated Qatari students say their schools and universities are providing them with the right skills and training for their chosen career, according to results from a new regional report.
There is a “fundamental misalignment” between the expectations of private sector businesses and students across the GCC, the report concluded, calling on schools, governments private companies and students themselves to work together to address the skills and information gap.
The study, How will the GCC close the skills gap, by international management consulting firm EY, found a disconnect between the skills employers in the private sector are looking for in their new recruits, and those possessed by nationals on leaving school and university.
The survey of private businesses and students across the region aimed to identify the major challenges that employers face in hiring and retaining nationals, as well as the attitudes of young people toward employment.
All GCC states have programs to encourage their nationals to consider jobs in the private sector or to set up their own companies. In this country, “Qatarization” policies impose quotas on large private firms to fill 20 percent of their positions with nationals.
But there’s been limited success in steering Gulf citizens towards the private sector across the GCC, including Qatar.
Private sector role
Some 70 percent of young Qataris prefer to work in the public sector, and only 23 percent said they would rather work in private business. This is one of the lowest in the region, just ahead of Kuwait where slightly more than one-fifth of young people said they would choose to work in the private sector.
In contrast, in Bahrain nearly two-thirds (60 percent) of respondents favored employment in a private business over the public sector.
Qataris have previously cited a perception that public-sector positions pay more as well as offer more favourable working hours and job security for preferring government positions.
And Qatar also has a problem when it comes to its efforts to encourage entrepreneurship. Just 11 percent of Qataris said they felt they were familiar with the legal and regulatory requirements to start their own business, which the report found was the lowest in the region.
While more than two-thirds of Bahrainis said they understood the rules, figures for the rest of the GCC states remained relatively low. Just one third (34 percent) of Emiratis said they knew them, while only 17 percent of Saudis did.
Overall, only 1 percent of Qatar’s private-sector workforce is made up of nationals, which along with the UAE, is the lowest figure in the Gulf.
The report’s authors said that as falling global oil price erode public revenues, the old system of relying on well-paid government jobs is unsustainable
“There is an urgent need to get more GCC nationals working in the private sector,” said Will Cooper, partner at EY.
He added that the solution lies in greater collaboration between businesses, government and schools and universities.
For example, private sector companies need to get more involved, offering more internships and training, and to work with educators to help design curricula that meets their needs, the report said.
Students in Qatar feel their education system is letting them down when it comes to properly equipping them with their right skills and training for their chosen career.
Some 58 percent of Qataris said they believed this, as did just over half (54 percent) of state-educated students in Qatar.
In comparison, 72 percent of students in Kuwait and 69 percent of Bahrainis felt adequately equipped for the wider work place.
Across the Gulf, fewer than half of all national students said they knew what particular qualifications they would need to work in their preferred industry. Qatar scored worst of all states in the region, with just 13 percent of students saying they understood what would be required of them.
The same percentage of Qatari students said they understood the application process for a job in their chosen field. Omani students fared a little better, with 39 percent of them admitting they understood the requirements, while in Saudi Arabia only 10 percent of students said they knew how the process worked.
Across the GCC, only 27 percent of private companies said they offered work placements, while in Qatar, just over one third (37 percent) of students said they had had work experience.
However, opportunities seem to be more available for Qatari women – nearly half (49 percent) of all those surveyed said they had been on work placement – the highest of all those in the region.
“As the region’s private sector diversifies, the current disconnect between the skills and knowledge employers need and what the education system delivers will become an even more pressing concern,” the report said.
Schools, colleges and universities also need provide more detailed and relevant information about careers, while governments must encourage a culture of employment, innovation and entrepreneurship, the report said.
“The Gulf region has recognized the importance of education and skills, and are investing heavily in schools, colleges and universities. However, there remains a fundamental misalignment of needs and expectations that makes it hard to improve outcomes,” Cooper said.
In order for governments to meet the targets of their ambitious national visions and for their economic diversification plans to be successful, there needs to be “much closer collaboration between all the players and concrete initiatives to ensure that the generation now coming through school is equipped and motivated to compete in the private sector,” he added.
A total of 1,030 GCC national students between the ages of 16 and 25 were interviewed during 2014 for the report, along with 101 large and medium-sized private sector employers.
You can download the full report here.
Why would you want to get a job when you can be a sponsor with minimum effort and get others to work for you. Its not a GCC thing it is human nature. The opportunities are so vast in Qatar for Qataris why would you want to join the rat race when you don’t have to.
I talked to some young Qataris about joining my company when they graduated and the first question they asked were what are the working hours. When they told them they said it was too much and they would never get time to see their familes. We only work 5 days and the hours would not be considered excessive anywhere. I never did get to the bit about the salary as they said no Qataris would want to work for us.
Therein lies the core problem. Human nature like water or electricity will take the path of least resistance, therefore these young men or women will take the easiest road for maximum return. I would probably do the same. The irony here is that the very gas that brought them their wealth has also trapped them in a never ending cycle of dependence on the gov. The loss of the gov backed financial support is the only thing that will force a change but like many governments going into an election if the voters are annoyed the gov looses out. In this part of the world such discontent tends to be fatal for the person in charge.
Did you forget to log out of your mimh account when you liked your own comment?
He does it always. Apparently no one cares about his comments. So he’s left to like his own.
I liked it so much I exercised my right to vote.
So what 116 private companies are being pushed to hire Qataris? (as stated in a previous article that is hyperlinked to this one)
Maybe a Qatari might be interested if it is actually publicized (maybe not but at least the companies would have tried). Most Qataris I know who know who interview for a job position hear about it from word of mouth. There is a disconnect between job vacancies and job seekers…or maybe companies prefer it that way.
As for skills gap, I think a lot of universities and schools have some kind of a gap . If I were to give advice to a student. I would tell them to find time to take classes on communication and sales. No matter how much technical knowledge you have, if you can’t get your point across (to various audiences) your knowledge will have little use. Being comfortable with public speaking is an essential life skill. Also sooner or later in every position in every industry you will have to sell something
maybe an idea to your boss or sell your qualifications/accomplishments in an interview/appraisal review.
I agree with you on this Misha especially concerning the notification of vacancies. I have noted the same jobs being listed over and over again on the same ads however there is never a reply to the application for the post. Companies here have a reputation of just not replying when it comes to applications. This needs to be addressed.
Exactly. Although this is common in other countries as well when there is a high number of applicants, there is usually an option to talk to a “human”. Here a lot of times even in the career fairs when you talk to someone beyond their PR speech they just direct you to their website.
What would really help Qataris is to get feedback on their CV. Why are they not suited for the job? What can they improve? What are they lacking?
I don’t blame them. When they see their peers get an easy ride to The top with no or minimum credentials.
The education system is a total failure. It started by lack of incentives for highly qualified teachers, authoritarian educational system where outdated curriculum is forced on teachers and students alike. It is a hopeless case, unless serious attention is given to this vital sector like they did to the Ministry of foreign affairs or the Ministry of interior.
As long as learning at school and elsewhere is done parrot-fashion, there is little chance of fostering a culture of entrepreneurship. Real education is the key, not just reciting words.
Rich kid problem. According to a friend who happen to be a native, children in Qatar are LAZY!!!! Everything are being spoon feed to them , that’s a big slap on their face.
I personally feel like students are often thrown into it with the notion of those businesses trying to sell them them an idea of the company when in reality they should focus on… well… the reality of what a company is. Those who to the public sector often complain about how boring the jobs and those who opt for private sectors think they might be missing out on a thing or two because nobody quite understands what to do until they’re in the workforce.
Personally, I wish I was motivated by my teachers and those who were in the career fairs to view those potential vacancies as potential careers instead of brag about the perks (“Oh we have less hours than X company and the work isn’t hard but you’ll stay dedicated”) and to be able to unlearn the easy way mentality sooner to be able to achieve a mindset that is more goal oriented.
Of course you should try to get a job doing something you love since then you won’t worry about the hours and other stuff so much. And if you do manage that, please let us know how. 🙂
I was educated in Europe and I’m not sure the schools and university there really prepared me for the workplace environment either. Even with knowledge from jobs in the holidays, it was still a thrown in at the deep end experience. I did however get a good education that taught me to question everything and how to research topics and use reason and logic, as well as a slightly-useful degree, even if it is only vaguely related to my career path.