GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Title of Paper:
Youth Employability and its Institutional and Cultural Context: Do Current Institutions and Policies Promote or Prevent Greater Productivity and Positivity within Local Labour Markets towards the Knowledge-Based Economies of the Future?
Paper Proposal Text :
David Jones** & Radhika Punshi
The Talent Enterprise
Corresponding author **

According to numerous global and regional research studies (McKinsey 2012, The Talent Enterprise, 2013 & PwC, 2014), the current education to employment transition fails for most employers and young people. First, there exists a lack of information and support when young people are making education and career choices. In a recent global study (McKinsey, 2012) on the growing gap between education and employment, fewer than half of the students surveyed were confident that they would study the same subject if they were given a choice again. 40% of youth also reported that they were not familiar with the conditions and requirements of employers within their regional labour market.

Second, there is a real disconnect between key stakeholders on the issue of future readiness of students for the workplace. There is minimal alignment between educational providers, employers and students. It is reported that less than half of students and employers believe that the education system has prepared them for the workplace, compared to 71% of educational providers. According to other estimates, many students report that they need to wait 6 to 12 months to find employment and over 50% are unable to do so in their chosen area of study.

After reviewing the regional institutional frameworks for labour market regulation and reform, this paper critiques recent developments and challenges. The paper will review the dual role of government, both as the prime employer of GCC national youth and as a regulator of both the public and private sector labour markets, considering how consistent, or not, its actions are in this regard. “Nationalisation” is a central part of the achievement of many GCC government’s ‘Vision 2020 or 2030’, which consistently aim to effectively achieve the transition towards a knowledge-based economy from the current energy-based economy. Considering we are at the halfway point between the inception of these goals and their prospective achievement, we need to consolidate advances to date and accelerate our performance more broadly. A broader-based approach to Nationalisation – Nationalisation 2.0 is a re-boot of traditional approaches.

The nature of institutional reform within education and employment regulation and provision has often meant the adding of new organisations, without disbanding the old, a phenomenon which can often lead to administrative conflicts.
Further, policy challenges will also be considered in regards to the current time lag in educational reform and impact in the labour market, estimated at more than a decade. In addition, the incompatibility of private sector employability demands and the educational product currently supplied will be highlighted by the role of language in education. Whilst local and global labour markets require a greater proficiency in English, governments are also concerned with protecting local national and cultural identities and social cohesion as top priorities.

Finally, the paper will assess the student perspective with regards to their views on their employability and the effectiveness of current career guidance practices. It will provide a comparative analysis of youth perspective from countries spanning the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, UK, India and Australia to compare the employability trends across these countries. The study will includes a sample of approximately 200 participants per country (students who are currently studying and under the age of 25 years). The online questionnaire includes variables such as life satisfaction, engagement, hope, availability of career guidance support, views on career readiness, means of searching for a job and employment preferences within the research design. Approximately 120 items have been included in this particular research.

The expected outcome of the research is to provide a comparative analysis of the regional institutional frameworks for labour market regulation and reform. It will also provide an assessment the current state of employability amongst youth from the representative countries. The research is designed to be predictive in terms of understanding both the relevance and potential impact on future employability, work and life outcomes, such as engagement and life satisfaction and the influence of the current institutional and policy framework in this regard.

It is also solution-focused and practical in terms of implications, thereby positively informing policy-makers and impacting solutions to shift the focus on improving the capacity of career guidance and career counselling across the region.

Relevance to GCC:
There continues to be a gap in good quality research and evidence-based practice both in the regional education and employment landscape and in particular, in the effective transition from the former to the latter. This study is extremely relevant to promoting a greater understanding the current strengths, gaps and opportunities towards the work readiness and impact of career guidance on the future aspirations, engagement and life satisfaction of youth from the GCC. The paper will end with recommendations for policy-makers and practitioners on how to accelerate the achievement of knowledge-based economies across the GCC by 2030. Primary amongst these will be promoting greater employee agency and engagement in regional workplaces and enhancing the role of new technology in improving labour market efficiency within the GCC.

Key words: Youth, GCC national, expatriate, employability, employee engagement, workplace productivity, diversity and inclusion, nationalisation, institutional reform, labour market efficiency, policy reform, role of public sector.