Changes in Education Needed to Meet Arab Region’s Labour Force Demands
Pearson: 21st Century Skills, Vocational Qualifications and English Language Critical to Region’s Workforce Development.
Dubai: Education leaders from around the globe have gathered in Dubai at the International Conference on 21st Century Education to discuss how education can be improved to better prepare learners for future workforce needs.
The Conference was held by the 21st Century Academic Forum, a group of researchers and educators seeking to make educational policy and practices more relevant to the demands of a modern labour force.
Mr Frank Edwards, who led the keynote address at the Conference, believes that this message is pertinent for the Arab World where there is a mismatch between education systems and the needs of the region’s employers. Mr Edwards, who is Workforce Development Director at Pearson, the world’s largest education company, said:
“Life in the 21st Century is very different to life in the 20th Century, and our education systems and the way we teach and learn needs to better reflect this remarkable transformation of humankind. We can no longer continue to provide learners with a one-dimensional, single disciplinary approach to education and expect them to thrive in a dynamic, rapidly changing work environment. Education in this global, technology driven age needs to better reflect our lives as 21st Century citizens, and must embody the skills needed to flourish in this new kind of world. At the heart of curricula and pedagogical practices needs to be an understanding of what will help students prosper in future work environments – skills such as collaboration, communication, problem-solving, information dissemination and team work”.
The Conference also heard that it is not just a focus on 21st Century skills that will help young people succeed in their future careers. Students should be focusing on education pathways that lead to employment in high-demand areas. Mr Mark Andrews, the Regional Head of Pearson Qualifications told the Conference:
“There is a false perception in the Arab World that a vocational education is a secondary choice to a university degree. However, our research has shown that this is simply not the case. Students completing a quality vocational qualification are being sort after by some of the region’s leading employers because they have the skill-set needed by industries facing significant labour shortages. These students therefore have excellent prospects for rapid career development and earning capacity in both this region and further abroad. Educators, learners and their parents need to be made more aware of the information available so that they can make a more informed decision about their education and future career choice”.
The International Conference on Language Teaching and Learning was held in conjunction with the 21st Century Skills event, emphasising the important role English language skills will play in building a capable, future workforce in this region and further abroad.
Mr Fadi Khalek, Pearson’s Regional Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Efficacy, spoke at the Conference about the need for learners in the region to have access to quality language education as economies in the Gulf become increasingly connected to the global economy. He said:
“English is the world’s first truly global language – a fact recognised by both employers and employees. A recent survey conducted by LinkedIn and Pearson found that of the global businesses surveyed, 90% agreed that it is of benefit to their business if their employees speak English. Eight in ten companies deemed English fluency as an attribute they look for in their global workforce, and 80% agreed that individuals who are able to speak good English are more likely to succeed in their business.
“With these kinds of statistics it is clear English language competency is critical to the success of businesses and individuals. It is therefore extremely important that the way we teach English is as effective as possible. Developments such as the Global Scale of English are allowing us to better understand and why learners are progressing, and identifying areas needed for improvement. Advancements like this will help to equip job seekers with strong English, and better prepare them for work and life in our 21st Century world”.