Paul Dyer, Research Associate, Dubai School of Government, UAE, Dr Abdul Reda Assiri, Dean, College of Social Sciences, University of Kuwait and Dr Nada Sulaiman Al Mutawa, Academic and Researcher, Centre for Strategic and Future Studies, University of Kuwait, during one of the panel discussions at the ECSSR conference. Image Credit: Ravindranath/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Governments have to play a bigger role in creating corporate strategies for the future of labour markets across the GCC, agreed a panel of education experts.

During the last panel discussion discussing Globalisation, Education and the Labour Market, which is part of the 15th Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) conference, scholars, discussed the importance of understating the global nature of higher education, while maintaining own identity and culture.

"There has been a tendency across the GCC region to copy and paste certain policies from the west, particularly from the US.

"The economy is a means not an end, and we must ask ourselves what kind of character we're trying to create in our societies.

"Unless you have an understanding of what kind of people you want to create and how the economy relates to it, then not much progress will be made," said Professor Phillip Brown, Distinguished Research Professor, Cardiff School of Social Sciences, UK.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has more than 80,000 students studying overseas; however what happens once they graduate, do they find jobs in their own homes?

The GCC region should help fund top performers and returning students. "GCC countries need to invest in teams of students returning to their countries, you don't want them spread across the world.

"I find it extraordinary that there are currently 40,000 unemployed graduates, given the structure of the labour market in the GCC."

Former Minister of Education in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Dr Ali Fakhro, highlighted the importance of learning from other cultures, while maintaining one's own national identity.


"It's great to be bilingual and learn different languages, but not on the expense of your own mother tongue."

There should also be more investments on research and in proper employee training in private companies.

"We have tens and thousands of jobs that can help train a new graduate, something that the education system cannot offer a student. Private companies complain that candidates aren't qualified enough, when the problem is that they don't offer them proper training."

Schools should not teach through memorisation but through good comprehension and application.