GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
The Future of Learning in the GCC: Qualitative and Empirical Evidence on the Opportunities, Challenges and the Way Forward
Paper Proposal Text :
According to a recent report by the World Economic Forum “in the context of an increasingly competitive global economy, the transition from education to productive and rewarding employment is challenging for young people everywhere”. However, the situation is even more profound in the MENA region, including the GCC with its persistent levels of high youth unemployment and under-employment and expanding population where “2.8 million young people are entering the labour market every year.” (WEF, 2014). Developing the skills, capabilities and mindset of youth is absolutely crucial both within the formal education system and outside. As an example, the total number of students in the GCC region is expected to grow from an estimated 10.2 million in 2011 to 11.6 million in 2016, a compound annual growth rate of 2.7% (Khaleej Times, 2015).
Our world is increasingly being recognised as a VUCA world (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of general conditions and situations), and as the recent instability in oil prices and the geo-political situation has demonstrated, there has been no time more urgent that today to skill, upskill and reskill our population to diversify our economies and build the knowledge-based hubs that are crucial to every Gulf nations strategic vision. The question remains as to how? How can skills and talents been developed at the national level targeting impact and change across millions of youth. How does technology impact how knowledge is imparted, both within the classroom and outside? And finally, what practices are employers adopting towards accelerating their learning and development strategies? In sum, contemporary socio-cultural, scientific, and technological advances are transforming the very essence of learning - both within our education systems and more so in the workplace.
This seminal paper will focus what is the future of learning in the GCC and what are the challenges and opportunities towards skill development for policy-makers, employers and educators, using an evidence-based approach.
The first part of the paper will set the theoretical context on the topic under discussion, highlighting key demographic and learning trends, both from a local and global perspective. The second section of the paper will focus on providing empirical data from an online research survey on the future of learning conducted with over 200+ L&D professionals representing public and private sector organisations from the GCC. The quantitative research will shed light on the perspectives and practices of senior human capital and learning professionals on the current and future state of learning, focus on national talent development, and views on alternative forms of learning such as gamification and e-learning. The third and final section will provide a comprehensive case study analysis on three particular developments in learning at the macro level – the rise of government-funded and supported MOOC’s with nation-wide platforms such as Edraak Jordan, funded by the Queen Rania Foundation and Doroob in Saudi Arabia, supported by the Ministry of Labour and the Human Resource Development Fund, both impacting 1000’s of learners in the Arab world every year. The case study section will also focus on the launch and progress of the Smart Schools initiative in Dubai, known as the he Mohammad Bin Rashid Smart Learning Program. The paper will conclude by providing a critique of the empirical and qualitative data presented with some clear recommendations on what the future of learning and skill development may look like up to 2020 and beyond.