Without Skills, Limited Possibilities for Arab Knowledge Economies

Friday, July 20, 2012
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Knowledge-based Economic Development as a Unifying Vision in a Post-awakening Arab World

This is my presentation at UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning’s Developing Capacity for Establishing Lifelong Learning Systems in the Middle East and North Africa workshop which included senior level education policymakers from Egypt, Kuwait, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. In this speech I trace the evolution of knowledge-based economic development in the Arab World. In pursuing this objective, many countries in the region have made large state-driven human capital investments with the goals of job creation, economic integration, economic diversification, environmental sustainability, and social development. An assessment of the effectiveness of Arab investments in human capital shows marginal progress towards knowledge-based development over the last decade. A disconnect between the skills developed in Arab skills formation systems and those required by private sector employers relegates Arab businesses to contesting lower-skilled, non-knowledge intensive industries which has stalled knowledge-based development in the region.

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