The Kingdom’s higher education institutions are failing to produce graduates to meet the requirements of the country’s labor market, according to a senior academic at King Abdulaziz University (KAU).
Abdul-Fattah Mashat, KAU’s vice president for development, identified four areas that need to be addressed. “First we have a large number of graduates from theoretical faculties. Secondly, our science and applied departments accommodate too few students. Thirdly there is the high cost of setting up science departments, and fourthly there is a shortage of academics,” he said.
He said that an additional problem is that there is not “accurate and detailed information on the needs of job market, not to mention that such needs are inconsistent.”
Mashat was speaking recently during the seventh and final session of the Jeddah Human Resources Forum. He said that communities must help universities identify solutions to labor issues. This can be done by educating the public on labor matters with lectures and seminars.
During the session, Mashat said universities face various challenges including rapid advances in technologies, rising levels of unemployment among graduates, the trend toward a knowledge society, the declining role of the government and private sectors, and the lack of alignment and harmonization between the higher education, labor and civil service ministries.
He said graduates working in the private sector tend not to be loyal to their companies and do not master English. They also do not accept lower-level jobs, lack scientific expertise, have poor attendance records, lack seriousness and a sense of responsibility, have poor productivity and do not want to work morning and evening shifts.
He said companies must also work with universities to determine which disciplines are important. “This will enable the labor market to participate in defining the outputs of education, and help higher education institutions to identify data to better understand the labor market.”
Naif Al-Roumi, undersecretary for planning and development at the Ministry of Education, said preparing students for the future is a big challenge for teachers and decision makers. He said 329,000 male and 427,000 female students are registered at schools this year.
He said the world is facing a learning crisis. Surveys have found that one out of five pupils have not acquired the minimum level of basic skills in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.
“The problem of poor-quality learning in the poorer parts of the world is increasing, with the costs amounting to $129 billion, equaling 10 percent of the global expenditure on primary learning. Both developing and advanced countries face this crisis,” he said.
© Arab News 2014