Qatar World Cup - focus on skills will contribute to World Cup success

Tue Sep 17 08:50:00 UTC 2013

As the Middle East prepares for the 2022 Qatar World Cup, educational experts are calling for more skills-based education and training to help meet the increased demand for qualified construction and tourism industry workers.

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Mark Andrews, the Regional Director of Qualifications for Pearson, the world’s leading education company, says the massive infrastructure projects planned for the World Cup will lead to a substantial increase in the demand for skilled labour in the region. This rising need for appropriately trained staff is concerning for some employers who are already suffering from a skills shortage.

Qatar’s successful bid for the football World Cup, one of the world’s most coveted sporting events, has led to a dramatic increase in the number of building developments undertaken in the country. Doha has an impressive number of infrastructure projects planned or underway at a cost totalling tens of billions of US dollars. They include a port, airport, rail network and metro. This has led to increased pressure in the job market where professionals such as engineers are already in short supply.

This shortage of skilled workers is being felt regionally, as Qatar’s neighbours also undertake large-scale infrastructure ventures. This shortage looks set to increase further if Dubai’s bid to host the 2020 World Expo is successful. Dubai is picked as one of the forerunners in the competition to host the Expo, which will see approximately 25 million people visit the Emirate, 70 per cent of which will come from outside the UAE. It is estimated that between US$2 billion and $4 billion will be spent on infrastructure should Dubai win the event, including a 'state of the art' exhibition centre, linked to an underground rail network.

Mr Andrews says that both the World Cup and World Expo will lead to significant job creation in the region, necessitating more education programmes that can sufficiently train workers to meet this growing need.

“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 industries.

“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”.

Mr Andrews’ comments reflect a recent global study conducted by Pearson into the disconnect between education systems and employer needs. The study, known as the Effective Education for Employment Programme, found recent UAE graduates and other new workplace entrants were not meeting employer expectations. The study found the skills most demanded by UAE employers included commitment, an ability to manage well, discipline in terms of delivery, and personal accountability. 

Mr Andrews says that Pearson is working to redress the region’s skills gap by offering qualifications that not only give learners an internationally recognised qualification, but the 21st century skills that will help them to succeed in the workplace.

“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”.

It is hoped that providing students in the region with skills-based qualifications will not only contribute to the success of international events such as the World Cup and the World Expo, but also help Qatar and the UAE achieve long-term economic goals.

“Employees with valuable workplace skills will help contribute to the future prosperity of the region. Investing in education solutions that meet the needs of local industries will have an important effect on Qatar and the UAE meeting their economic ambitions of diversification away from the petro-chemical industries, lowering youth unemployment and increasing the percentage of nationals participating in the private sector. This is not to mention the important role well-trained workers will have in making the football World Cup and other international events held in the GCC a great success”.

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