GCC businesses and education systems should do more to empower universities with right tools

GCC businesses and education systems should do more to empower universities with right tools
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Published December 5th, 2010 - 08:33 GMT

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An education expert has said that for many businesses in the GCC, a short, job-specific training course can be a quicker passport to employment or career advancement than four years of academic study. Mark Andrews, MENA Regional Director, Edexcel added: “No education system, private or public, can hope to fulfill its role as a provider of job-ready individuals without understanding the society’s requirements. The situation in the GCC is far from the level necessary for employers and jobseekers in the region. After four years of study, university graduates still need a lot of training even though they will only be holding a junior post in thecompany. And this is regardless of the company’s size or specialisation.” Part of the problem, according to Andrews, is that businesses do not have opportunities to influence education policies, effectively rendering the education system inadequate for meeting their needs. Andrews added: “There is a sense that businesses in the GCC are not always clear about their own needs because they lack the effective diagnostic tools that help them assess their staff’s strengths and weaknesses based on the company’s operations. Consequently, businesses are not always able to identify exactly which skills gaps exist in their organisations.” “Moreover, many employers across the world have indicated that they find traditional education systems are being challenged in terms of providing learners with essential work-related behaviours.. It is becoming increasingly important for workers to have the right attitude, a willingness to learn and an understanding of how to conduct themselves in the workplace. These are the qualities that many employers are seeking,” noted Andrews. Edexcel, the UK’s largest awarding body, is part of Pearson, the world's largest provider of education services. It offers academic and professional qualifications and testing to thousands of schools, colleges, employers and other places of learning globally, and has over 4 million learners enrolled on its highly regarded courses in more than 85 countries. As part of its thought leadership role in the region, Edexcel is triggering a debate on how well the employment and training needs of employers, individuals and governments are being met by existing education and training systems. Andrews said: “This balance between the supply and demand sides of education is becoming more and more intense as countries across the world face the difficulties that have resulted from the current economic downturn. It makes what we call ‘effective education for employment’ an even more fundamental issue.” Regionally, Edexcel’s partners include the National Institute for Vocational Education (UAE), the Sharjah Institute of Technology (UAE), and the Bahrain Training Institute (Bahrain). “Together, we and our partners focus our attention on one key point - that there is a significant disconnection between education systems and the needs of 21st century employers, both public and private. Our global research has shown that the match between what employers, individuals and governments seek and what respective education and training systems provide is ill-fitting in many countries,” says Andrews. Edexcel recommends that schools, colleges and local governments and businesses, work together to collectively promote, and ensure that learners gain, the qualities valued by employees. Such long-term collaborations will ensure that skills gaps such as those that currently exist will not recur in the future; instead, jobseekers will be highly employable, employers will recruit staff members who are able to immediately perform to a high standard, and local and global economies with continue to develop.

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