This is the second in a series of articles written and published on the blog of AbdulMuttalib al Hashemi’s blog post titled “The Middle East in 2023: Predicting the future of employment, education and entrepreneurship” calling for human resource professionals, experts and believers in HR’s growing importance in today’s middle eastern workplace to share their predictions and dreams on three areas I believe will have a massive influence on the Arab society’s landscape. In the next two parts of my post I will kick-off by sharing my own personal predictions for the next ten years on two of these three areas, and they are: education and employment.
Education in the Arab world: Young, growing and with an uncertain future. More than 25% of Arab youth (aged between 15 and 24) are reportedly unemployed. Add that figure to a sluggish growth in the private sector, a saturated public sector that is incapable of absorbing all graduates, a growingly competitive marketplace and an increasingly tense political environment across the Arab world; and you will understand why education of youth is at the top any government’s priority list. Historically, education in the Arab world has been known to be of nationalistic, political, religious and academic nature. The result has been an extremely unbalanced labour market that has not been able to fulfil the expectations of employers. Given this, I foresee a continued focus on arming students with skills required in today’s workforce. Here in the UAE the government will push for the private sector to play an increasing role as a generator of employment.
I expect to see an increasing number of ‘vocational education’ programs provided by government owned institutions as the education sector in general continues to lag behind. We should also see a number of private sector companies and multinationals entering the training and development market by running their own programs. Watch out for ‘Leadership Academies’ established by these companies which will focus on the development of the national workforce.
Education in primary and secondary schools will become more experiential with a move away from the traditional rote learning style to interactive classrooms where teachers will spend less time lecturing and more time coaching and mentoring students. Students will spend more time on research based work. Use of technology in schools will gain ground, although I suspect we will initially see a shaky start due to lack of focus and substance from some institutions. UAE will lead the move for ‘technology based learning’ now that the Smart Learning initiative has been announced by the Vice President, and I expect Qatar and Saudi Arabia to follow suit. Online Learning will see a boom in the Middle East and I expect an ambitious project somewhere in the region housing the top online education institutions which could possibly provide an integrated solution such as education, project-based learning opportunities to global work placements opportunities.
Classroom learning will take it to the next level by becoming more personalised adjusting to every student’s needs and paving the way to a new ‘Personal Competency-based’ scoring system rather than the ‘one-size-fits-all’ marking system. This move will encourage focus on individual talent rather than the traditionally team-centric model currently adopted in colleges and universities. Banning mobile phones from the classroom will be a thing of the past and we could possibly see schools in the next ten years embracing the ever growing mobile applications technology as a learning and teaching tool. Could we potentially see mobile applications used as a medium to monitor students’ work outside the classroom? Or could mobile phones replace computers as a teaching medium to thousands who have no access to schools. The bottom line is, if we expect to a generation of smart and progressive knowledge workers; education too has to grow smarter.