As Qatar’s tertiary education sector grows, so do the connections between universities and employers in the country. A number of universities are offering executive education or continuing professional development courses for those already in employment, while researchers are keen to work alongside potential end-users of their innovations. However, as with any education system, gaps remain between the skills of graduates and the needs of government and industry. “Entrepreneurship in Qatar is growing and universities can help bolster this growth,” Everette E Dennis, former dean of Northwestern University in Qatar, told OBG. “Public-private partnerships would enhance this.”
Given its relatively small population, Qatar does not face the same pressure as many of its Gulf neighbours to provide sustainable employment for its young graduates. In 2018 there were 10,320 Qataris working in the private sector, representing less than 10% of its workforce. Instead, the majority of Qataris work for the government or government-owned entities. In 2018 the total number of Qataris graduating from university courses in Qatar and abroad was 3938, including 2657 women and 1281 men. Planning and Statistics Authority (PSA) data showed 668 Qatari graduates received degrees in business, economics and finance, followed by 250 in engineering, 219 in law and 121 in sharia, 191 in education, 41 in science or technology, and 22 in public health. There was only one maths graduate, who received a Bachelor of Science abroad that year. To some extent, these graduates are well equipped to work in state-owned bodies, but the data suggests a skills mismatch with the future needs of the Qatari economy.
Qatar University (QU) highlights community service and outreach as an essential part of its role in Qatar, and in the 2018/19 academic year more than 2300 attendees participated in 179 courses at QU. This included 394 participants in 32 certified courses and 589 in 38 tailored programmes requested by employers or other education providers. Health professionals and educators took part in courses that included biomedical research; science, technology, engineering and mathematics; teaching; and languages.
In 2018 PSA data showed that more than 285,000 people in Qatar attended public and private vocational training establishments. Almost half of these trainees, or 125,784, were learning about air transport and related operations; 61,985 were training for administrative roles; 36,362 were training in occupational safety and security; 13,573 were in oil and gas industry courses; and 11,364 were training to be teachers. Overall, 48,958 Qataris were enrolled on these courses, with a roughly balanced gender gap.
Business opportunities that benefit the education sector itself are the focus of a Qatar Foundation initiative: the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE). In September 2019 WISE announced the name of eight education technology (edtech) initiatives from around the world that would join its accelerator programme. Winning pitches included Teacherly, a platform that helps teachers reduce planning time through peer-to-peer support; Medics.Academy, a medical education platform to tackle the global shortage of medical workers; and Kamkalima, which is designed to assist the teaching of Arabic in school. The winners were announced at the WISE Summit in Doha in November 2019, which was attended by 3200 educators and decision-makers from over 100 countries. WISE has supported 24 ventures from 15 countries since its inception, and it is estimated that over 14m people from 130 countries have benefitted from the edtech solutions it has backed.
“There are several things that factor into the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, from capital expenditure to talent acquisition. There needs to be an innovative approach to fostering entrepreneurship and the development of new policies,” Michael Trick, dean of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, told OBG.
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