(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The Arab Thought Foundation's annual conference, 'Fikr 12', provides an effective platform to discuss the most important issues in the Arab world, said His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
"The conference has become a major annual event that brings together Arab intellectuals, thought leaders and innovators."
Shaikh Mohammed said this while inaugurating Fikr 12, being held in Dubai under the theme 'Job Creation: 80 Million Jobs by 2020 in the Arab World', on Wednesday.
He praised the annual event, which brings together Arab intellectuals, thought leaders and innovators, and provides a communication platform for them to exchange views on the most important and fundamental concerns of the Arab world. He commended the efforts of Prince Khalid Al Faisal, Chairman of the Arab Thought Foundation (ATF), an organisation with vast experience in launching development, thought and cultural initiative in the Arab world. He called on all participants to identify strategies and action plans that would support the development of the Arab world.
The event was also attended by Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai; Shaikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai; and Prince Turki Al Faisal.
Prince Khalid presented 'The Arab Creativity Award' to Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed for the 'Dubai Smart City' Initiative, which was launched by Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid and has contributed to achieving unprecedented technical and scientific development within the emirate.
Changing mindsetstowards private jobs
The report on 'Enabling Jobs Creation in the Arab World' issued by the ATF in cooperation with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and the Ministry of Labour in Saudi Arabia was released at the conference, followed by a discussion by expert panelists.
The pointed out the various shortcomings in the education system, and the reluctance on the part of Arab youth to become a part of the private companies' workforce.
However, the UAE, according to experts, has fared well in the report and with the coming Expo 2020, employability rate in the tourism industry will shoot up to 40 per cent.
"The public sector plays an important role in providing jobs to youth in the region," said Haneen Sayed, Human Development Coordinator of the Middle East and North Africa, World Bank, Lebanese Republic.
In a report that was released by the World Bank recently, the region needs to create 80 million jobs by 2020. Sayed added: "Six impediments were pointed out in the report with regard to job allocation among the youth in the region. The major concern at the moment is to reduce unemployment among the youth in the region."
To produce a workforce that can be employed in the private sector, the education system and the Arab curricula must undergo a change. "The current system lacks the necessary techniques to build a task force that is ready to work in the private sector. Most educational institutes prepare the youth for examinations; they are not made work ready," she said.
In an interview with Khaleej Times, Emad Tinawi, a partner at PWC, said the immediate problem is that there is a negative mindset among the youth here when it comes to finding jobs in the private sector. "It is still a cultural thing. There is still a prevailing mindset that the public sector provides a much higher salary than the private sector does," said Tinawi.
"There are now a significantly higher number of UAE nationals who have been educated outside the country now. But research in private firms show that the youth might have the technical skills required to work in private firms, but do not necessarily have the soft skills to perform work in the sector. They are not good with team playing or don't have the right work ethic."
Tinawi, however, opined that there is already a massive shift in trends and the mindset of the youngsters will change in the coming years. "Especially with Dubai winning the Expo bid, there is a possibility that the youth would even be willing to get into the service industry, which was usually not the case," added Tinawi.