Gulf Faces Personnel Shortages in Education and Healthcare

/ 07 Mar 2014

Gulf Faces Personnel Shortages in Education and Healthcare

The Emirates appear to be attracting more and more students to international branch campuses: But will those campuses have enough faculty members to actually teach? A new study says they might not.

The study, released by the Dubai International Academic City and Deloitte, the global consulting firm, found that the Gulf will face a shortage of teachers, professors and other academic personnel that could reach 200,000 by 2015. The study also showed a low 1 to 3 percent enrollment rate in technical and vocational training, including nursing schools and other allied professions, compared to a global average of 10 percent.

This puts healthcare employers in a crisis. The Gulf in particular and the Middle East and North Africa region in general are facing potential shortages of healthcare professionals in the forthcoming year. Healthcare spending in the region is expected to double from 2010 to 2015 but enrollment in healthcare professions is not keeping pace.

The study surveyed 2,415 students, human-resource managers in 235 companies and representatives of 15 recruitment firms. The study focuses on the Emirates but also aims to understand the gaps in the regional workforce at all levels as well as grasp recruiters’ needs to forecast industry trends. The students surveyed were from 17 markets, including Middle East countries and parts of Asia. Although the study was completed in 2013, the findings of each industry analyzed are released individually throughout 2014. Findings of the education sector were released on March 4.

Too many students, not enough teachers

The study found that the growth in education was driven by some other trends:

  • Higher-education enrollment rates of Emirati youth increased from 41 percent in 2008 to 45 percent in 2011.
  • Private higher education in the Emirates witnessed a 7 percent growth rate during that same period.
  • The private-education sector in the country is valued at $2.8 billion and growing at a rate of 10 percent.
  • The number of students in the Gulf will grow at a compound average growth rate of 2.7 percent between 2011 and 2016 to reach 11.6 million by 2016.
  • Enrollment of Emirati citizens in private primary and secondary schools in the Emirates is 55 percent, compared to 11 percent in Saudi Arabia and 37 percent in Qatar.

The managing director of Academic City and Dubai Knowledge Village, Ayoub Kazim said in an interview that Gulf countries have been expanding investment in education at a faster rate than other countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

The future potential personnel shortage, however, threatens that growth. Kazim said that the government and universities are working on closing this gap already by hiring professors from other countries and encouraging the development of skills to match educational employment needs.

The study revealed that professional lecturers in management and accounting are the top two job positions in demand.  The third most needed job role is trainers at the vocational level. Professors in organizational behavior and economics are also in the top five most-needed professions.

Shortage in vocational students

Kazim said the lack of students enrolling in vocational training is “due to social status and perception toward that kinds of education.”

The government is spreading awareness about the importance of vocational training to encourage more students to enroll. “University education isn’t suited for everyone,” says Kazim. “So we need to locate those who are left out, who do not continue their high-school education and do not pursue their studies and provide them with alternatives.”

The government will encourage more students to enroll in training for jobs in nuclear power, energy and healthcare.  Abu Dhabi has started a nursing college.

Kazim believes all the government can do is raise awareness about alternatives and leave the choices up to the students to fill the gaps in the market. “Oil and gas presents 30 percent to the gross domestic product in the Emirates,” says Kazim. “But in Dubai, oil and gas only represents 5 percent. So there are many major sectors in the economy, like hospitality, tourism, retail and construction. The students should be well aware of those segments’ needs to contribute to our economy.”




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