Alabbar calls for regional forum on human capital to solve labor market rigidities
The Arab World should organize a regional forum on human capital as a first step to seeking tangible solutions to its labor market rigidities said Director General of the Department of Economic Development (DED) and Chairman of Emaar Properties Mohamed Ali Alabbar.
Emphasizing the role of education in producing an efficient and productive labor force, he also called for the establishment of a regional institute that unites education with industry, leading to the entry of youth into the private sector.
Alabbar was speaking on “Increasing competitiveness in the Arab World” during the Extraordinary Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), currently being held in Jordan. He identified the urgent problems that have plagued regional governments and said that there was a widespread lack of clear economic and political structures that could promote long-term sustainable economic development.
Asserting that human capital was, “the most important contributor to long term sustainable development,” Alabbar emphasized the urgent need to take specific actions and find tangible solutions for the rigidity in Middle East’s labor markets, by means of a regional forum that unites captains of industry with education practitioners and policy formulators.
“If our labor forces are not matching the needs of either the private sector, local and international investors or for that matter public sector institutions targeting reform and higher quality governance, then we need to know why. If the lack of competent middle management – an obvious efficiency deficit throughout the Middle East – is undermining our ability to compete internationally, we need to fix it,” he asserted.
“The forum on human capital must be a collective discourse that includes all of our labor market stakeholders. The recently revitalized Arab Business Council within the WEF – which unites the private sector from across the region – would be the ideal body to kick start this process,” he suggested. “This discourse must address immediately the obvious and most pressing legislative rigidities that we have created in our domestic labor markets. Constantly threatening skilled expatriate workers that add value to our local economies with the possibility of being banned from the domestic market – as indeed has been the case in the UAE – does not help to create a transparent and consistent labor market,” he said.
Citing the UNDP’s Arab Human Development Report, which outlined a lack of political freedom, a lack of female empowerment and under-investment in human capital as the critical factors that have impeded progress in the region, Alabbar pointed out that the failure of regional educational policies had given rise to a labor force that lacked initiative, skills and motivation.
Alabbar also called for dialogue among the regional governments to reassess the existing political structures, suggesting that it could be in the form of a series of workshops or a centralized research program.
“Our people need voice and they need transformation,” asserted Alabbar as he called repeatedly for concrete action. He underlined the existing trend in the Arab World to identify problems and then take refuge in a victim culture, adding: “Let us use the developments of the past 12 months as a catalyst for real, genuine changes rather than yet more self-indulgent dialogue and despair.”
The Department of Economic Development (DED) was established in 1992, with the objective to organize, regulate and boost trade and industry within the Emirate of Dubai. The DED has moulded its mission of building a futuristic establishment, in accordance with the vision of the Government of Dubai and in the light of globalization and the requirements of a digital economy. One of its key functions is to encourage local and foreign investments in commercial and industrial projects, and create the appropriate environment for investors. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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