Localisation and training programmes to boost employment in Bahrain

Vocational and workplace training has become increasingly important in Bahrain in recent years. Despite economic growth of roughly 4% a year since 2010, according to the World Bank, Bahrain has a fairly high unemployment rate, estimated at 7.4% over the same period, and is higher still among the national population. In large part, this is due to a mismatch between skills and the needs of the local labour market, and as a result many employers hire expatriates on the basis that their skill sets are a better match for the job in hand.


Efforts towards “Bahrainisation” – increasing the number of Bahrainis vis-à-vis and in place of expatriates – have redoubled of late. The government uses a two-pronged strategy: the first is a system of quotas whereby, depending on the level of skill and responsibility required, a fixed proportion of posts in a given industry are required to be filled by Bahrainis; the second aspect of Bahrainisation is an emphasis on training. The government has been undertaking a root-and-branch reform of the education system to ensure school leavers are better suited to obtain jobs; however, this is a project that will only start to show results over the medium term. In the meantime, the various vocational and in-work training schemes in place are essential for enabling Bahrainis to join the workforce in greater numbers.


The public education system in Bahrain had 7100 students studying vocational courses in the 2013/14 academic year, of which 800 were female, according to figures from the Ministry of Education. Bahrain is also home to several specialised training centres, tailored to the needs of specific industries. The new Nasser Vocational Training Centre (NVTC), inaugurated in December 2014, teamed up with the UK’s Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (EICTB) in 2015 to provide high-quality, internationally accredited apprenticeships in construction. These will allow pupils to study for the EICTB’s Level 2 apprenticeship, while continuing to pursue Arabic, English and mathematics as part of a vocational secondary education. The NVTC aims to recruit up to 350 pupils to begin the programme in September 2016.

Training Up

In 2014 the National Institute for Industrial Training signed a memorandum of understanding with the training centre of German firm Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles, under the auspices of the Economic Development Board. The two will work together to develop a dual company and school apprenticeship, which would see apprentices continue formal education through a vocational school while also receiving on-the-job training with a salary. The Bahrain Institute of Hospitality and Retail dates back to 1999 and offers courses geared to the needs of the country’s growing tourism industry. There are also several training institutes catering to the financial services industry, which makes up around one-sixth of the country’s GDP and provides 14,000 jobs, according to the Central Bank of Bahrain. Among them are the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance, the Gulf Insurance Institute, and the Ernst & Young Training Centre, which offers professional accountancy qualifications. Many of the country’s larger employers, such as Aluminium Bahrain (Alba), also run their own training schemes for staff.

There is a huge appetite among Bahraini workers for workplace training and short courses in fields like computer skills, leadership and management. Companies such as ThinkSmart and Gulf International Institute provide such courses, and report high demand. “Training as a business is doing very well in Bahrain,” Noureen Kader, general manager of ThinkSmart, told OBG. “There is demand for training courses at all levels, from school leavers to graduates. This, together with the need to meet Bahrainisation requirements, is helping to create lots of opportunities in the sector.”

You have reached the limit of premium articles you can view for free. 

Choose from the options below to purchase print or digital editions of our Reports. You can also purchase a website subscription giving you unlimited access to all of our Reports online for 12 months.

If you have already purchased this Report or have a website subscription, please login to continue.

The Report: Bahrain 2016

Education chapter from The Report: Bahrain 2016

Cover of The Report: Bahrain 2016

The Report

This article is from the Education chapter of The Report: Bahrain 2016. Explore other chapters from this report.

Covid-19 Economic Impact Assessments

Stay updated on how some of the world’s most promising markets are being affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, and what actions governments and private businesses are taking to mitigate challenges and ensure their long-term growth story continues.

Register now and also receive a complimentary 2-month licence to the OBG Research Terminal.

Register Here×

Product successfully added to shopping cart