Bahrain’s people the key to growth, says EDB

Published March 24th, 2009 - 05:10 GMT

Bahrain’s people the key to growth, says EDB

Dr. Zakaria Hejres, Deputy Chief Executive of Bahrain’s Economic Development Board (EDB), has hailed Tamkeen’s vision of creating new career and training opportunities for Bahrainis.  Last month alone, Tamkeen announced training contracts worth over BD2 million, taking its total portfolio of investments to more than BD66 million.

An additional 100,000 Bahrainis are expected to enter the job market over the next decade.  Equipping them with world-class skills to meet the needs of international businesses will be crucial in driving private sector growth and the catalyst to elevate national living standards by creating greater opportunities for Bahrainis, said Hejres who also sits on the Tamkeen Board of Directors.

“Prudent investment in our people is extremely important to the future of Bahrain and that of Bahrainis.  The people of Bahrain are the backbone of our economy and our future prosperity depends on them.  This is key to Vision 2030 and the National Economic Strategy’s ambition to raise the standard of living for every Bahraini by providing training for better jobs and better salaries in the private sector.  Tamkeen’s recent progress in providing skills and training for Bahrainis marks another firm step towards realising this ambition.”

According to the latest figures from Tamkeen, Bahrain’s independent authority which formulates strategic and operational plans to enhance the overall prosperity of Bahrain, BD49million is being invested in training more than 18,000 Bahrainis over the next four years to provide them with the skills that the private sector requires.  Announcements in February included:

• A BD1,173,725 contract with the BTI to train 220 Bahrainis as IT professionals
• A BD558,600 contract with the Bahrain Training Institute (BTI) to train 220 civil engineering graduates as quantity surveyors
• A BD160,000 initiative with BBK to train and find employment for Bahrainis in retail banking
• A BD154,200 agreement with the Gulf Insurance Institute (GII) to train and find employment for 100 Bahrainis as administrative assistants

Bahrain’s business sector is already supported by the most productive, well-educated and highly skilled national workforce in the GCC; almost 70 per cent (67%) of the financial services sector workforce is Bahraini.  Continued investment in education and skills attainment is at the heart of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and National Economic Strategy, designed to support further diversification of the economy and ultimately give Bahrainis the means to secure their own prosperous future.

The Kingdom has introduced reforms that will continue to improve its advanced education system – the first to be established in the Gulf – in line with the requirements of the private sector, adopting best practice from some of the world’s most successful educational models.   Recent developments include the establishment of the Quality Assurance Authority, the Bahrain Teachers College and the Bahrain Polytechnic, with which Tamkeen signed a BD1.4m Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in March for the enrolment of 100 promising young Bahrainis into market driven specialisations including business studies, ICT and logistics.

Hejres added: “In Bahrain, we have already seen the benefit of a well developed education system and what this can do for economic development.  A sustainable and professional national talent base makes the Kingdom an even more attractive location for companies looking to access the Gulf.  Our education policy has been developed with a clear sense of what sectors we want to grow and which sorts of employment opportunities will be created.  We want to ensure that as many as possible of the new jobs go to a generation of highly skilled, young Bahrainis.”

Bahrain is served by more than 200 primary and secondary schools including 30 private schools that offer curricula from the UK, US, France, Japan, Pakistan and India.  There are a vast number of specialised colleges offering courses in finance, medicine and IT and education centres such as the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF) and Gulf Insurance Institute (GII).  The Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) and Tamkeen play complementary roles in education and skills development.

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