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In Focus: Education and the workforce of the future in the Middle East

Throughout PwC’s Future of Work series most of our research has focused on securing the opinions of employers, all of whom emphasise a dependence on the education and training sector to provide the talent they need.

Given the lag in graduating students, meeting this expectation requires educators to be able to predict what employers will need in several years’ time and be able to deliver it. To what extent is this reasonable? The increasing number of specialised corporate academies is a symptom of this gap, particularly in the Middle East where the drive to be innovative coupled with a preference for imported research and talent makes it doubly hard for universities to keep up. Is there enough effort being made on both sides?

We therefore interviewed eight vice-chancellors and leaders from well-established higher education institutions in the UAE and KSA on their reaction to our Workforce of the Future report. The UAE is the most active higher education hub in the region, with over 25 international branch campuses and an active private sector that attracts students from around the region. The opinions we heard are a testament to how seriously Middle East educators are taking their responsibility for preparing youth for the future workforce and are humble about their track record to date. But also, not surprisingly, they sound an urgent plea for employers to understand the art of the possible and collaborate with them on this joint challenge. Particularly as students in the ME are, from their perspective often, “blissfully optimistic” about their future and ability to survive and thrive.  

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Sally Jeffery

Sally Jeffery

Global Education & Skills Network Leader, PwC Middle East

Tel: +971 (0)56 6820539

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