Gulf countries are still falling short when it comes to realising people's economic development, according to the World Economic Forum.
The global organisation's Human Capital Report 2017 said failures to translate investment in education during the formative years into opportunities for higher-quality work during the working lifetime contributes to income inequality by blocking the two pathways to social inclusion - education and work.
The Middle East and North Africa region has an overall average score of 55.91 in the report, ahead only of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
The report said that three Gulf states – the United Arab Emirates (45), Bahrain (47) and Qatar (55) – outperform the rest of the region’s Arab-speaking countries and score in the mid-range of the index overall.
However, Saudi Arabia (82), the region’s largest economy, ranks low in the analysis of 130 countries.
The top 10 is topped by smaller European countries – Norway (1), Finland (2), Switzerland (3) – as well as large economies such as the United States (4) and Germany (6). Four countries from East Asia and the Pacific region, three countries from the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region and one country from the Middle East and North Africa region are also in the index top 20.
At a regional level, the human capital development gap is smallest in North America, followed by Western Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, East Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa. The gap is largest in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
The report measures 130 countries against four key areas of human capital development - Capacity, largely determined by past investment in formal education; Deployment, the application and accumulation of skills through work; Development, the formal education of the next generation workforce and continued upskilling and reskilling of existing workers; and Know-how, the breadth and depth of specialized skills-use at work.
According to the report’s Human Capital Index, 62 percent of human capital has now been developed globally. Only 25 nations have tapped 70 percent of their people’s human capital or more. With the majority of countries leveraging between 50% and 70 percent of their human capital, 14 countries remain below 50 percent.
A fundamental tenet of the report is that accumulation of skills does not end at a formal education, and the continuous application and accumulation of skills through work is part of human capital development. All too often economies already possess the required talent but fail to deploy it, WEF said.
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution does not just disrupt employment, it creates a shortfall of newly required skills. Therefore, we are facing a global talent crisis. We need a new mind-set and a true revolution to adapt our educational systems to the education needed for the future work force,” said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman, WEF.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.