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GCC in need to create 300,000 more Jobs

The GCC region needs to create over 300,000 jobs and the private sector's role is crucial in creating a huge number of jobs, a senior official at the Economic Development Board, Bahrain, said.

The role of the private sector as a major driving force for social development and in providing the key impetus for economic growth in the region was highlighted at a World Economic Forum panel discussion between leading Arab experts at Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.

Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, EDB chief executive, took part in the discussion as a member of the Bahrain delegation, emphasising the need for massive investment in educating the youth to provide them with necessary skills for the workplace, to ultimately be well prepared for the challenges of the future. He said that by looking at the examples of smaller countries such as Singapore, Switzerland and Ireland, one can see that investments made in young people have created massive wealth, skilled workers and increased productivity.

He said: "Singapore, for example, has limited natural resources but has still succeeded in overcoming these limitations to develop a highly skilled workforce across various professional classes." Shaikh Mohammed further pointed out that the region's workforce still depended on the public sector for employment even though, according to a McKinsey report, over the past 10 years, the private sector managed to create about 55,000 medium- and high-skilled jobs in the GCC.

The report further underlines that to absorb the number of GCC nationals with a secondary-school degree or higher, the annual figure must rise five-fold, to almost 300,000. To provide a living wage, these jobs must pay at least twice what the private sector jobs offer at present.

Following the panel discussion, Shaikh Mohammed implored, "We can no longer sit back. Now is the time to think of our future generations, and the starting point has to begin with educational reforms.

"We need investments in vocational and technical training if we as a region are to avoid a skills crunch in the years to come. And let us not forget the private sector. They have a pivotal role to play in the design and implementation of future educational and skills training."

This future, he added, is one where the Gulf states are no longer exporters but importers of labour and that the region's economic stability is guaranteed by a highly skilled and flexible workforce. The EDB is a strategic partner at WEF. In a delegation led by Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister of Finance, leading executives and government officials of Bahrain addressed a high-power gathering in several panel discussions to focus on its agenda for a number of key social and economic issues.( via Bahrain Tribune )

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