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Tue 7 Apr 2015 10:00 AM

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Education system needs reform to tackle youth joblessness, says Fadi Ghandour

Graduates are being moulded for the public sector but system must encourage critical thinking and entrepreneurial spirit, says Aramex founder

Education system needs reform to tackle youth joblessness, says Fadi Ghandour

The educational system urgently needs to be reformed if countries are to adequately tackle the challenge of youth unemployment, Fadi Ghandour, the founder of Aramex and active supporter of Arab entrepreneurs told delegates at an event in Dubai.

At the recent STEP 2015 conference, during an on-stage talk moderated by Matthew Craig from the World Economic Forum, Ghandour said that the current educational systems around the world is producing graduates with skills needed to work in the public sector.

“If you want them to get employed in the private sector, you have to encourage critical thinking and entrepreneurial spirit.

“So, there’s that educational gap. We need to educate people for jobs and not for general use of that education,” Ghandour said.

In his post-Aramex era, Ghandour serves as the executive chairman of Wamda Ventures, a new venture capital fund focusing on technology investments in the Arab World, and managing partner of MENA Venture Investments, a seed capital investment company focusing on early stage tech companies in the MENA region.

He went on to add that the private sector should be involved in decision-making on what should be included in academic curricula in order to produce critical thinkers.

He said: “We need to develop the 21st century skills for the 21st century jobs. We need to educate people for digital economy and we need to do that fast.”

A new research by CompTIA, an IT industry association and vendor-neutral skills certifications for the global IT workforce, has revealed that 75 percent of business executives based in the GCC see IT training and competence as a key driver for the success of their business.

One of the biggest concerns when hiring IT professionals is getting the right mix of skills, with 79 percent of employers in the Middle East and 65 percent of employers in the UAE being concerned about this.

The survey further supports Ghandour’s points that developing right set of skills among youth, which constitutes more than 40 percent of the total adult population in the MENA region, is crucial revealing that 81 percent of companies in the Middle East plan to hire IT workers in 2015,

Ghandour talked about the Amman-based Princess Sumaya University for Technology (PSUT), which was established in 1991 to offer specialisation in IT, communications and electronics, as more aligned with the employment needs of the private sector.

“The job entry of their graduates is 100 percent. So, it’s simple, language and coding,” Ghandour concluded.

With more than 15 topics on the agenda ranging from online payment to the latest tech trends for start-ups in the EU or mobile gaming in the Arab world, the STEP 2015 conference gathered over 1,000 entrepreneurs and investors at the Dubai International Marine Club last week.

In addition, the Exhibition Square gave entrepreneurs the opportunity to demonstrate their products and services while in the mentors’ corner they could get a half an hour long one-on-one session with investors and industry leaders.