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Presentation on theme: "Www.britishcouncil.org1 Graduate Employability in the MENA region British Council research project."— Presentation transcript:

1 Graduate Employability in the MENA region British Council research project

2 British Council Skills for Employability supports the education and training which Prepares people for work, skilled jobs and for day to day life Skills for Employability addresses the challenges of Globalisation and The demand for skills in a global economy Thus proving opportunities for young people within the region to acquire the technical and generic Employment skills to compete locally and internationally in the world of work

3 Why this research now? Arab Spring Voice of Arab youth Regional rate of youth unemployment is over 25% - the highest in the world. Graduate unemployment is also over 30% in some countries How do skills gaps among graduates contribute to the unemployment problem? What do young people want from their education systems? How are universities and post-secondary vocational institutions developing graduate employability?

4 Project aims To explore the issue of graduate employability and employer engagement in the region To provide insight into how British Council can best support and work with its partners to improve the employability of public sector higher and vocational education graduates

5 Research methodology Desk and primary qualitative research Post-secondary vocational and higher education sectors Capture voice of young people, employers and institutions 8 countries - Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, UAE Young peopleEmployersInstitutions 24 focus groups across the 8 countries 185 final year students and recent graduates 17 in-depth interviews with employers across the 8 countries automotive, insurance, health, transport, aviation, oil, construction, retail, engineering and media sectors + 2 representative bodies 19 in-depth interviews with institutional respondents 9 universities 9 vocational institutions 1 ministry official

6 What is graduate employability? …a set of achievements – skills, understandings and personal attributes – that makes graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations, which benefits themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy. (Professor Mantz Yorke, 2004)

7 Why has employability become so important? Growth of knowledge economies Greater international competition resulting from globalisation Less certainty among employers regarding the future requirements Call for improved forecasting of skills needs and education-based solutions Move away from the traditional job-for-life Increasing unemployment levels Notions of social justice, with employment seen as the solution to poverty and social exclusion Trend towards greater civic participation

8 What do employers want? All (employers) value the analytical and reflective qualities that lie at the heart of a quality learning experience. But there is a growing emphasis by employers on the need for graduates to demonstrate a range of competences which will equip them to work in a global environment, in different countries, in multi-cultural teams, be innovative and enterprising and have strong language skills… Businesses have diverse and multiple needs for higher learning. (Council for Industry and Higher Education)

9 9 Developing employability: A global issue Invest in the quality of education and training and improve its relevance to labour market needs. Education and training programmes that equip young people with the skills required by the labour market are an important element in facilitating the transition of young people to decent work. (Global Employment Trends For Youth: 2011 Update, ILO)

10 What are employability skills? Soft Skills Self-management Thinking and solving Working together Understanding the business (Enterprise and entrepreneurism) Hard skills Using numbers effectively Using words effectively Using technology effectively Speaking a foreign language Foundation skill: a positive approach = can-do attitude, willingness to participate, make suggestions, accept new ideas and constructive criticism, and take responsibility for outcomes

11 How can graduate employability be developed? (CareerEDGE: The key to employability: developing a practical model of graduate employability, Dacre Pool and Sewell, 2007)

12 International best practice Driven through at national policy level: high level support Supra-institutional level: large-scale research and development projects – collaborations between students, employers and institutions – sharing of best practice Institutional level: commitment and vision to develop a supportive culture, and make employability core business Investment to develop high quality staff and resources

13 International best practice Institution-wide approach – employability strategies and published employability statements - cross-departmental, collaborative, employability champions, dedicated posts Student and employer engagement Curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular opportunities to develop employability skills

14 Employer engagement work placements and site visits curricular/extra-curricular design/providing materials role in assessment guest speaking mentoring students career development/ career fairs/job vacancies opportunities for institutional staff to update knowledge and skills members of national working groups membership of institutional boards and committees curricular/extra-curricular design student surveys responsibility for own skills development/supported with PDP and other reflective learning tools Student engagement

15 MENA: The regional context What did young people tell us about graduate unemployment in their country? I know the situation. Ill spend a year doing applications and a year waiting for a job. We live in this country and we know the situation. We wont lie to ourselves, its impossible to find a job as soon you graduate. It doesnt happen in America or Britain, much less in Tunisia. (Male student, Tunisia) It makes you feel as if your certificate is just a decoration. (Female graduate, Saudi Arabia) Whenever my friends and I talk about studying, we say, why bother, either way well be unemployed and sit in coffee shops. (Male student, Egypt) We feel pain that we worked hard to get jobs, time is passing and we are ageing. We feel that we have wasted out time in school. (Female student, UAE) They don't give fresh graduates a chance. (Male student, Kuwait)

16 Whats causing graduate unemployment? What did students and graduates tell us? Insufficient economic growth and demand for graduates Employers prefer expatriates over locals (Gulf and Libya) Graduates want public sector jobs, and are opting for voluntary unemployment - they have unrealistic expectations (Gulf) Graduates are forced into the informal economy (North Africa) Too many graduates and their qualifications are not in demand Graduates lack work experience and the technical and employability skills demanded by the labour market Graduate unemployment? The problem is often in the job seeker, not the job. They refuse jobs; they think they are too good for them. (Female student, UAE)

17 Whats wrong with the education system? Institutions need to revise the curriculums based on what the labour market needs and include new technology. There are curriculums that are very old. There are always new things coming out, the curriculum needs to be updated. (Male student, Saudi Arabia) Students dont participate in the learning process. Our role shouldnt just be to listen - if I could participate, I would understand better, and also Id concentrate more. (Female student, Egypt) Educational institutions need to develop Bahraini youth. They need to make them think. Change the curriculum itself, dont just stuff it with content. Give students the basic skills and let them think for themselves, let them understand their subjects. (Male student, Bahrain) We should study subjects that will be useful for our future jobs; they should be more relevant. (Female student, Morocco)

18 What is the nature of the skills gaps in MENA? 1.Quantitative - insufficient supply of national graduates in the Gulf 2.Structural - oversupply of arts and humanities graduates and an undersupply of technical graduates Universities and colleges should know what jobs are available and try to match that with the subjects that they offer. (UAE) 3.Qualitative - soft and technical skills: 46 per cent of the regions employers do not consider graduates to possess the right skills set (Arab Human Capital Challenge: The Voice of CEOs) per cent of employers reported that graduates were not work ready (Education for Employment: Realizing Arab Youth Potential)

19 What did employers tell us? Hard skills: English (or French) language skills were weak. Technical skills: We take on accountancy graduates and find they dont know anything about accounting. We have to give them internal training. It is very expensive. (Kuwait) Soft skills: Yes there are gaps and most of them are personal and interpersonal skills, things that we dont teach here. (Egypt) The biggest problem is communication skills; I can clearly see a major problem here, (UAE) Many graduates still consider themselves to be students even when theyve got a job - they are still scared, still waiting for orders. (Bahrain)

20 Developing graduate employability in MENA Regional agreement that education for employment agenda represents a significant challenge and requires urgent attention (E4E study) The report called on governments to put e4e right at the top of the national agenda…and actively reach out to the individual players. Respondents across MENA confirmed that public sector initiatives and reforms to address aspects of employability are planned or taking place across the region Many based and/or benchmarked on international practice - examples of good practice. But, limited or no institutional collaborations or multi-stakeholder forums established

21 Institutional engagement and support Few or no explicit institutional employability policies or strategies in the region Institution-wide commitment to and focus on employability evident in only small number of institutions: support from top, dedicated career staff/internship and employer relations staff, collaborations across departments Some institutions benefiting from international institutional partnerships Many institutions just starting to introduce initiatives Challenges: lack of resources, systems, models, competing priorities, lack of staff commitment, resistance, structural and cultural barriers

22 Student engagement and support No examples of student representation or consultation at national level in educational decisions, or evidence that students are involved in employability reforms. Positive signs that some countries in the region are formalising a participatory role for young people in broader educational decisions Student elections Student committees Participatory role for students set out in quality standards

23 Employer engagement and support Regional employer survey - employers willing to engage and establish partnerships, e.g. 67% willing to engage through internships, mentoring, guest speaking and offering lectures But only 35% believe that the private sector has successfully communicated its expectations to the education system (Source: Arab Human Capital Challenge: The voice of CEOs, Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, 2008) Id welcome field trips but Ive never been approached. (Employer, Bahrain) Id be happy to offer work placements. Yes, I would welcome this – it would be for mutual benefit. (Employer, Kuwait) Everyone wants there to be partnerships. They offer benefits for employers, institutions and students. (Libya)

24 Challenges Lack of representation / coordinating bodies: We wish to have people coming from the higher education institutions, from the Chamber of Commerce, people who represent companies, regardless what the company does, for them to then sit down and discuss our needs and concerns with the Ministry. (Saudi Arabia) We should have a stronger voice with the institutes, tell them what we need. Perhaps if there was collective committee or an organising body, to have a better word, a better voice, forums... these are the common challenges that we have and maybe putting on a little pressure to say thats what we need. (UAE)

25 Challenges Over-centralisalisation: Everything is centralised in the Ministry and the professional environment has a limited contribution at this level (Tunisia) Culture: We have to develop a connection between the university and employers but in Egypt, universities are a bit afraid of employers and vice versa. Lack of resources: The University must be proactive in establishing relationships with employers. Currently those links are not strong but I think once our careers centre is up and running, employer links can be established. (Egypt)

26 Whats new or interesting? Chambers of commerce represented on university boards (Morocco) Representative bodies: As a federation, we try to identify the needs of companies because they cant do this if they are isolated. (Tunisia) Quality assurance standards re employer engagement (UAE) Snowball effect of engagement Its all related; when I meet with employers about work experience, everything else comes up. The internship has been a great way for developing a network of organisations. One institution approached us to sit on their programme advisory committee meetings; so we started to do that and then we saw other opportunities to work together.

27 Whats new or interesting? Quality assurance standards cross-referenced to NQF (Saudi Arabia) Credit-bearing stand-alone courses focusing on specific skills, e.g. critical thinking or creative problem solving Employability skills (or graduate attributes) embedded in all curricula and ongoing employer consultation; outcome-based; pre- and post-moderation of assessment; supported reflective learning process for students to identify, develop and learn to articulate their skills (Bahrain and UAE) Entrepreneurship embedded in the curriculum (Egypt)

28 Whats new or interesting? Developing a network of employers: Initially we started by just sitting down and identifying who wed like to start with based on majors and sectors. Business and IT employers are obvious, but for the applied arts, students have been a huge source. Faculty too. Everybody in this university is a source. Im talking students, staff, faculty, employers. Best practice guidelines in quality assurance standards (UAE) Job shadowing (UAE)

29 Whats new or interesting? Compulsory credit-bearing module for personal development within the curriculum: must include some combination of extracurricular activities, charity work and community engagement (Bahrain) Extracurricular section added to students academic transcripts (UAE) Short-term contract with an employer who requiring part-time paid work in evenings and weekends: also provides on-the-job training (Morocco) Part-time on-campus employment: 5 hours a week paid work - the library, help desks, finance - every area is being looked at. Internal departments send the careers office a vacancy list; we post it, students apply, the departments interview everyone. The goal is to have students working for one semester. (UAE)

30 Career Development Learning Students reported inadequate levels of career development learning during formal education. Many commented that they lack long-term goals, a view shared by many employers and institutional respondents. They want more guidance, especially regarding the prospects and labour market demand of different study options. And also support developing job searching skills. I usually ask them in the first class why theyve chosen the course. Believe me, only one in ten says because they want to be an accountant. The others usually say that it wasnt their real choice and they were oriented by their exam results or because it was the only choice left. They let things go by. They say, Lets get the diploma and then let fate decide for us. (Institutional respondent, Tunisia) Tests administered with Grade 12 students resulted in an average score of 4.7 out of 25 in future planning skills (Arab Knowledge Report)

31 Experiential learning – work placements Structured work experience positively influences a graduates chances of getting a graduate-level job (UK research) MENA students see value: gain experience, develop technical skills, employability skills and build self-confidence. Universities should provide job placements before students start their working life, but that does not happen. (Male, Cairo, Egypt) For me, yes it was very useful. I developed the required skills and got some experience. I also learned patience and how to be more responsible. (Male student, Saudi Arabia) It doubled my chances to get a job as I now have an experience letter from the bank. (Female student, UAE)

32 Whats new or interesting? Setting up careers services in higher and vocational education institutions Employers are visiting schools and tertiary institutions to raise awareness of their sectors: Du came to the college, and explained what skills they require and need in the company. Why dont other companies do the same, and tell us what they need? Institutions are providing job searching skills training through special elective courses that earn credit, or through career centres:We provide interview training for students and alumni - for students to be asked questions about themselves - theyre not used to that in this culture, and so thats a big area of intervention. Some institutions are introducing compulsory first year courses to support students with choices about their major and future career

33 Advancing the graduate employability agenda Use of regulation and policy to embed best practice in developing employability – quality assurance standards, national agencies to support initiatives, e.g. work placements Creating national or regional working groups – with student and/or employer representation to focus on research and development of specific themes, e.g. embedding employability skills into the curriculum, reflective practice and Arab students Platforms to share best practice from around the region Developing institutional employability strategies

34 Best practice The responsibility for developing students employability is done almost by osmosis. Its a natural by-product of deciding on having an outcomes learning mode; on deciding the global outcomes; on deciding that you embed them and integrate them into the curricula and then making sure that you have programs and services where they can be tested and applied; on deciding that you have a full time, final internship program; on deciding that the internship program must have faculty involvement - its not just letting the careers office do it and faculty can focus on what we do best. The whole push was, as faculty, you should be linked to the community - you should have an awareness of the employment market, because thats the reason why this place exists. So, its everything! (Institutional respondent, UAE)

35 Thank you Melanie Relton Regional Manager Vocational Education Middle East, North Africa British Council,

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