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The European Union’s Forum Euroméditerranéen des Instituts de Sciences cited Tahseen Consulting’s research on the changing post-Arab Spring conceptualization of knowledge-based economy as a potential model for a policy road map to restructure regional economies.

Tahseen Consulting’s Related Work

Read about Tahseen Consulting’s work on creating national skills formation for knowledge-based development

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EDUonGo, Inc., a learning platform company powering innovative mobile and blended learning in the education, corporate, and government sectors, today announces a partnership with Tahseen Consulting.   Under the agreement, Tahseen Consulting becomes the exclusive reseller of EDUonGo for several countries in the Arab World.

Move your classroom, education institution, or corporate training department online now with EDUonGo: http://tahseen.eduongo.com/v2/

“We are extremely excited to find a partner like Tahseen Consulting to help us expand our offerings to the Arab World,” said Ridvan Aliu, CEO of EDUonGo.  “Tahseen has excellent knowledge of the education market in the Arab region, and their vision for the future of education aligns extremely well with ours.”

“We reached out to more than 10,000 educators in 22 Arab countries in a survey last year and found that close to 85% of professors at higher education institutions in the region are not happy with their current learning management system”, said Walid Aradi, CEO of Tahseen Consulting. “While the Arab World’s youth want to control their own learning experiences through online learning, only 13% of educators in the region have adopted technology in the classroom to enable blended learning. This is substantially lower than other regions of the world. Many Arab education institutions can greatly benefit from the learning platform provided by EDUonGo.”

With the increased adoption of high-speed internet access and mobile devices in the Arab World, education institutions face the challenge of meeting the new expectations of learners who want engaging, interactive, and individualized learning experiences.  Collaboration has become increasingly important in today’s learning environments. Students and teachers are demanding new ways to collaborate that makes the teaching and learning experience more effective, immediate, and personal in the classroom and beyond. Companies and government institutions have also realized the value of blended learning to facilitate onboarding, leadership development, and other technical training.

“We see a tremendous opportunity to not only replace existing learning management systems in the Arab region but to revolutionize the teaching and learning experience for educators, students, and corporate trainers with EDUonGo,” said Aliu. “Our unique collaboration features greatly enrich student and instructor relationships in ways that were never before possible.”

“EDUonGo’s learning platform is the best we have seen on the market,” said Aradi.  “It is extremely easy to use and 100% cloud based which greatly reduces costs for education institutions and companies.”

 

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In our previous post on Unequal Labor Market Distribution of Youth in the Arab World we looked at an example of applying a behavioral intervention to influence youth career choice in Gulf countries. While consumer behavior and decision sciences literature in the US and Europe has shown that prompting respondents to rank their values prior to making decisions can yield positive results in terms of post-decision satisfaction and lower levels of regret, asking youth in the Gulf countries to rank attribute values that they consider important when making career choices prior to choosing a career path was not as positively influential as Western literature suggests.

Our research findings suggest that behavioral interventions on career choices of youth in the Gulf decrease the likelihood that they will choose career disciplines characterized by labor market gaps or which are outside traditional career disciplines. This finding illustrates that behavioral interventions that seek to influence career choice of youth in the Gulf may be less effective due to students being unaccustomed to considering values when making career decisions, a finding that has also been demonstrated by previous research in the Arab World (IFC, 2011).

Related Blog Posts

Exactly How Many Jobs Are on Offer at Recruitment Shows in the Arab Region?

Skills Shortages and Gaps May Limit the UAE’s Islamic Finance Hub ambitions

Looking more closely at the assumptions on which behavioral interventions are designed can potentially reveal the extent to which such interventions or ‘nudges’ for improving decision quality are applicable in the Arab region. Thaler and Sunstein (2008) describe behavioral interventions or ‘nudges’ as ‘any aspect of choice architecture that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives’. Their notion that people are ‘nudge-able’ is primarily based on the assumption that human nature often prompt individuals to follow heuristics in decision making that may lead to biases and errors. Heuristics, or rules of thumbs, are adopted by humans because they cost less time and effort and seem much more convenient given our ‘bounded rationality’ and selective attention. Kahneman and Tversky (1973) explain how heuristics such as anchoring, availability heuristics, framing effects, and higher sensitivities to losses than gains, may lead to judgment errors or biases that distort decision making processes and yield sub-optimal outcomes.

A major weakness in behavior intervention literature is the assumption that heuristics used to make decisions are similar across cultures. Cultural differences are often overlooked in designing behavioral interventions (Levinson and Peng, 2006). While some heuristics may be universal (for instance, our study showed a similar tendency of Arab youth, as is common amongst youth elsewhere, to stick to prevalently chosen and socially acceptable career disciplines given the increased perceived accountability associated with the decision (Dolan et al., 2010), studies show that not of all them are. The belief of one’s ability to influence events, risk tolerance, honoring of sunk costs, probability judgments, and cultural dimensions listed by Hofestede (2001) such as uncertainty avoidance (Keil et al., 2000) can all influence heuristics applied career decision making.

The need for further research into behavioral interventions and measures that would be more effective, familiar, and meaningful to youth in the Arab world is evident in order to promote socially optimal career decisions amongst Arab youth. Such work must be accompanied by the development of a behavioral model to ensure cultural variation is accounted for rather than treated as statistical noise (Levinson and Ping, 2006). At the same time, exploring the applicability of career guidance behavioral interventions and their pre-requisites in the Arab region and cultures other than the West would help in understanding the origin of biases. Exploring why biases or nudges are not as effective  in influencing career decisions of Arab youth as elsewhere may provide a different approach for exploring solutions that persuade Arab youth to enter career fields which face skills shortages and new and emerging fields which may not have the same level of social acceptability as more traditional career tracks.

Khamael Al Safi Khamael Al Safi

Khamael Al Safi specializes in the analysis and design of innovative organizational practices, and the development of tools and approaches for the governance of organizations and markets. Khamael has worked for the people and knowledge development functions of several organizations specialized in financial services, non-profit education and media and publishing. She has a particular interest in the role of behavioral decision making in human and organizational development and has focused her recent research on career choices of youth in the Gulf Arab world. She is a recent graduate of the London School of Economics where she studied for a MSc in Organisations and Governance.

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In “The Vocational School Fallacy in Development Planning” Foster (1964) remarks “Aspirations are determined largely by the individual’s perception of opportunities within the exchange sector of the economy, destinations by the actual structure of opportunities in that sector”(p. 151). Last week Abu Dhabi hosted its annual Emiratization career fair Tawdheef. Assuming that Foster’s assessment of labor market decision making is accurate, the over 30,000 people, 44% of whom were Emirati, presumably shape their opinions of labor market opportunities based on the companies participating in the such events. From this perspective, career shows serve as an important bell weather that calibrates the public’s perceptions of labor market needs.

The Tawdheef exhibitor list shows that 50 companies participated in the event:

  • Approximately 54% of the companies attending the event were public sector companies or government-owned corporations, with the remaining entities from the private sector
  • The majority of company exhibitors were from the Finance, Insurance, And Real Estate, Manufacturing, Public Administration, and Transportation, Communications, Electric, Gas, And Sanitary Services sectors

Conspicuously absent were representatives of the UAE’s small and medium sized enterprise (SME) sector, despite the prominence of the sector in the UAE and the high employment concentration in small businesses in the UAE and across the Arab region. This was also the first time in the past six years Tawdheef has been hosted that only firms with immediate job opportunities for UAE nationals were permitted to exhibit. This prompts the question: exactly how many jobs are on offer at such events? We estimate around 2,900 jobs.

Related Blog Posts

In our post Company Sizes in the Arab World: Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Dominate Arab Economies we found that 92% of businesses in the Arab region are under 200 employees. The concentration of SMEs in Arab economies has a significant on employment creation and potential public sector responses the region’s youth employment challenge.

In our post Regional Ranking of the Largest Arab Employers, we show the top 15 largest employers by country

To assemble the below estimates we relied on data from official Tawdheef communications in the media. To approximate the number of jobs on offer for the remaining exhibitors which did not list the quantity of jobs they were recruiting for at the event, we scoured the online recruitment sites of each company and consulted the sites of Tawdheef’s recruitment partners (Bayt.com, Akhtaboot, GovJobs, and Monster.com).  In many cases, companies which participated in Tawdheef did not have any jobs listed on online recruitment channels which career fair attendees could apply to.

CompanySector
IndustryEstimated Number of Jobs
Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC)
PublicTransportation, Communications, Electric, Gas, And Sanitary Services
9
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB)
Public
Finance, Insurance, And Real Estate
NA
Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development (ADCED)
Public
Public Administration
NA
Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA)
Government-owned corporation
Finance, Insurance, And Real Estate
NA
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
Private
Finance, Insurance, And Real Estate
NA
Abu Dhabi National Energy Company - TAQA
Government-owned corporation
Manufacturing
NA
Abu Dhabi Police GHQ
Public
Public Administration
NA
Abu Dhabi Quality & Conformity Council
PublicPublic Administration
6
Abu Dhabi Tourism and Cultural Authority (ADTCA)
Public
Public Administration
NA
Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority (ADWEA)
Public
Transportation, Communications, Electric, Gas, And Sanitary Services
NA
Advanced Integrated Systems
Private
Manufacturing
200
Al Mansoor Group
Private
Manufacturing
NA
AL Mansoori Specialized Engineering
Private
Manufacturing
1000
Al Wathba Company for Central Services
Private
Manufacturing
NA
Commercial Bank International
Private
Finance, Insurance, And Real Estate
6
Department of Transport
Public
Transportation, Communications, Electric, Gas, And Sanitary Services
NA
Dolphin Energy Limited
Government-owned corporation
ManufacturingNA
DU - Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Co.
Government-owned corporation
Transportation, Communications, Electric, Gas, And Sanitary Services
160
Emirates Advanced Investments
Private
Manufacturing
NA
Emirates Aluminum
Government-owned corporation
Manufacturing
250
Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation
Government-owned corporation
Transportation, Communications, Electric, Gas, And Sanitary Services
500
Ershaad
Private
Services
30
Etihad
Government-owned corporation
Transportation, Communications, Electric, Gas, And Sanitary Services
46
Etihad Rail
Government-owned corporation
Transportation, Communications, Electric, Gas, And Sanitary Services
NA
First Gulf Bank
Private
Finance, Insurance, And Real Estate
NA
General Holding Corporation (GHC)
Government-owned corporation
Manufacturing
43
Halliburton
Private
Manufacturing
48
Health Authority Abu Dhabi
Public
Services41
HSBC Bank Middle East Limited
Private
Finance, Insurance, And Real Estate
11
Khalifa Fund For Enterprise Development
Public
Public Administration
NA
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Middle East & Africa
Private
Services
146
Mubadala, Al Mamoura
Government-owned corporation
Construction
3
Musanada
Government-owned corporation
Services
3
National Ambulance Company
Government-owned corporation
Services
NA
National Bank of Abu Dhabi
Private
Finance, Insurance, And Real Estate
10
National Health Insurance Company (DAMAN)
Government-owned corporation
Services
50
New York University Abu Dhabi
Private
Services
15
Oasis Hospital
Private
Services
15
Petrofac Emirates LLC
Private
Manufacturing
20
Presidential Guard (PG)
Public
Public Administration
NA
SawaeedPrivate
Services
22
Schlumberger
Private
Manufacturing
1
Standard Chartered Bank
Private
Finance, Insurance, And Real Estate
30
State Security Department
Public
Public Administration
NA
Tabah Foundation
Public
Services
4
Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA)
Public
Public Administration
6
TotalPrivateMining
4
UAE Exchange
Private
Finance, Insurance, And Real Estate
NA
Union National Bank
PrivateFinance, Insurance, And Real Estate
201
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The Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies at the Institute of Education, University of London cited Tahseen Consulting’s research on the governance of skills formation in knowledge-based economies as a potential model for more effective national education and skills formation strategies in OECD countries.

Tahseen Consulting’s Related Work

Read about Tahseen Consulting’s work on creating national skills formation for knowledge-based development

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Last week the UAE joined the growing list of global financial hubs which aspire to also become Islamic finance hubs. The list includes countries such as Thailand, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, India, France, Canada, Japan, India, China, Nigeria, Malaysia, and Bahrain. Despite their aspirations, many of these countries lack the critical financial sector standards and human resources to offer substantial sharia compliant banking and financial services.

Our study of Islamic financial hubs reveals several common structural approaches pursued by Islamic banking leaders:

  • Dual Banking Systems: The most successful Islamic banking hubs operate a full-fledged Islamic banking system in parallel with a full-fledged conventional system complete with liberalization measures that also allow foreign banks to operate
  • A Step-by-step Approach: Successful Islamic banking hubs have an overall long term strategy to develop a large number of instruments; a large number of institutions; and an Islamic interbank market
  • Comprehensive Legislation: Successful Islamic banking hubs pass comprehensive Islamic banking legislation and typically have a common Sharia Supervising Council for all Islamic banks
  • A Practical, Open-minded Approach: To complement education and training of potential employees entering the Islamic financial services sector, Islamic banking hubs employ research-based approaches and product experimentation to serve local needs and ensure innovation
  • Participation in Forming International Standards: Several Islamic banking hubs have established bodies to internationalize Islamic banking standards which are  involved in regulating the global industry and establishing standards involved in furthering Islamic finance training and education

As shown in the figure below, these structural approaches to forming an world-class Islamic banking system are underpinned by sound financial systems rooted in internationally accepted economic, financial, and statistical standards.

Islamic banking and financial systems

Establishing a sound financial system and Islamic banking sector requires adoption of internationally accepted economic, financial, and statistical standards

Human Resources Frequently Limit Ambitions of Aspiring Islamic Finance Hubs

Based on our projections that a another $87 to $124 billion could potentially enter the Islamic banking system in the UAE by 2015, approximately 7,800 new jobs will be created at Islamic banks in the UAE assuming current asset concentration ratios remain similar. We also project another 500 jobs will be created by 2015 in other Islamic financial services segments. By 2015, the Islamic financial services sector will double in size from approximately 10,000 employees currently to 20,000.

Established 2011 Total Assets in $Current Number of EmployeesProjected Number of New Employees Needed by 2015
Total$69,000,947,4116,2377,864
Dubai Islamic bank1975$24,683,505,1772,0002,522
Sharjah Islamic bank 1976$4,831,918,801412519
Abu Dhabi Islamic bank 1997$20,245,231,6081,2001,513
Emirates Islamic bank (merged with Dubai Bank)2004$5,853,895,0951,0971,383
Noor Islamic bank 2007$4,598,651,499650820
Al Hilal Islamic bank2008$7,697,841,417702885
Ajman Islamic bank2008$1,089,903,815
176222
Number of employees in the Islamic banking sector in the UAE

By 2015, the Islamic financial services sector will double in size from approximately 10,000 employees currently to 20,000.

To meet this growing demand for employees trained in Islamic finance, the UAE will need to significantly broaden its education and training options to ensure availability of human capital does not stall the growth of the sector. While it has a number of current executive training institutions and higher education institutions that target mid-level employees in the Islamic finance sector, the UAE does not have any programs that target new entrants interested in the field or senior level leaders. The UAE also does not have institutions which provide research and analysis that advances the field. The experiences of Bahrain and Malaysia show that research capabilities and institutions have been key structural feature of Islamic banking systems that lead to product innovation and effective regulation. Furthermore, many of the masters programs in Islamic banking and finance in the UAE remain general MBAs or masters degrees with very few specialized courses related to practical aspects of Islamic banking that are required by employers. The exceptions are Zayed University and Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University which have in-depth course offerings in Islamic finance and economics.

Tahseen Consulting’s Related Work

Read about Tahseen Consulting’s work on skills gaps and how they impact Arab businesses

Islamic Banking Training in the UAE

While it has a number of current executive training institutions and higher education institutions that target mid-level employees in the Islamic finance sector, the UAE does not have any programs that target new entrants interested in the field or senior level leaders.

Malaysia's Islamic Banking Education and Training System

Malaysia’s human capital development programs span all levels of the industry with a focus on internationalizing operational and product standards.

Towards a Islamic Finance Human Capital Development Strategy for the UAE

To solidify its position as an Islamic finance hub amongst the heavy competition, the UAE will need to significantly enhance its current education and training system. This includes human capital development and research programs to ensure:

  • Quantitative supply of Islamic banking graduates through expanded undergraduate offerings or financial sector bridge programs that target non finance graduates
  • High quality executive training focused on resolving likely skills gaps amongst current employees
  • Specific executive training and leadership development training for senior level bank leaders and regulators to create the necessary vision and Sharia knowledge to enable product innovation
  • High quality research and thought leadership that pushes the boundaries of the sector and allows the UAE to participate in the internationalization of operational and product standards which is currently being led by competing Islamic financial hubs
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In so far as a similar global economic development narrative based on the transition to knowledge-based economies and accompanying high wage, high skill jobs was perpetuated by the engagement of the World Bank and UN with the Arab World in the early Nineties, a similar opportunity bargain as that in the West emerged in the Arab countries. In addition to high skill, high wage job creation, however, the Arabization of the concept of knowledge-based economy infused economic development with a host of other development issues such as economic integration and diversification, innovation, entrepreneurship, education and training system reform, environmental sustainability, identity, language, gender equality, and political participation and democratic reform. With its association to human capital development, the concept of knowledge-based economy created a convincing economic development narrative that met the psychological needs of Arab citizens but, as evidenced by the Arab Spring, clearly missed the mark on delivering on physiological needs.

Broken Promises of the Arab Opportunity Bargain

Although there are few regional public opinion surveys that can provide an indicator of the effectiveness of Arab governments to deliver on the opportunity bargain that has become enmeshed with the Arab Dream, a recent survey of 16,000 citizens across 21 countries in the Arab World shows several sources of breakdown. Carried out in late 2010 and early 2011 before the Arab Spring reached it boiling point, the survey provides a baseline indicator of several seeds of discontent that point towards unfulfilled promises associated with the pursuit of knowledge-based economy in the Arab World and a broken Arab opportunity bargain. Particularly in the less wealthy Arab countries outside the Gulf, respondents described an Arab World that is not amenable to finding employment; lacks effective education systems; which offers few opportunities for youth to get ahead through hard work; faces a dismal outlook for economic growth; and offers a difficult path to reaching life milestones such as securing affordable housing (Silatech 2010). In many countries, citizens indicate that they would prefer to migrate to realize their dreams elsewhere.

Securing a Viable Arab Dream

How Arab governments respond to the broken regional opportunity bargain following the Arab Spring could make the difference between a lost generation of youth plagued by chronic unemployment and social marginalization as well as significantly impact future generations. Disaffected youth have the potential to become a perpetual thorn in the side of Arab nations as youth bulges experiencing economic hardship have been linked with political violence. Discontent amongst Arab youth based on an evolving opportunity bargain that no longer promises free education, a public sector job guarantee, and state support could severely compromise ambitious economic development plans.

The Arab Spring was in part a result of people buying into the Arab Dream, investing their time and money in education, but then subsequently finding that their credentials and hard work does not allow them to  fulfill their dreams of gainful employment and achievement of accompanying social and economic advancement. The Arab Dream is grounded in a regional pursuit of knowledge-based economic development driven by policies that envision the emergence of high skill, high wage economies that will create jobs. However, the global availability and growth of low cost, high skill workers potentially threatens the viability and economic fundamentals of sophisticated, innovation-driven knowledge-based industries taking root in the region and devalues the credentials of skilled workers. If knowledge-based industries fail to take root and lead to employment, many of reforms and money spent on higher education expansion, education quality, R&D ecosystems, and entrepreneurial growth could be deemed inappropriately spent.

The Arab Spring was a very tangible reminder that securing a viable Arab Dream is a major issue of concern to regional governments. The Arab Dream must include a revised opportunity bargain which factors in how the marginalized whose voices came to a boil in the Arab Spring can have access to livelihoods. Creating this opportunity bargain requires not just benchmarking and replicating the economic development trajectories of  wealthy, developed countries but also being aware of the vulnerability Arab economies face in an era of globalization and the emergence of high skill, low wage knowledge workers that have changed the fundamentals of knowledge-based industries.

While some Arab countries are more suited to competing in a high skill, low wage global economy, other Arab countries which are unable to compete in high skill, high wage knowledge-based industries will need to adequately calibrate the expectations of their citizens regarding the types of jobs which will be available in the future and the likely instability of salaries due to wage compression from competing low wage, high skill workers. Efforts to privatize education attainment so that labor market success or failure passes the burden on to individuals are prone to market failure without sufficient demand for skills from the labor market. Short term, quick fix government payouts to solve the problems with the broken Arab opportunity bargain are also likely to fail. Arab governments will have to take a hard look at the economic counsel they have received over the last two decades to judge its worth in securing the economic interests of the region. Reforms to reinvigorate the Arab Dream must challenge the assumption that more education is always the answer, reconsider the full employment promise which hampers global competitiveness, reduce wage inequality to ensure equal distribution of wealth, and determine the Arab world’s position in an global economy with emerging low cost, high skill competitors that challenge knowledge-based economic development both in the developed and developing world.

Related Work

Rethinking Arab Knowledge-based Economies

Value for Money in Arab Educational Reform

How Skills Surveys Can More Effectively Identify Workforce Skills Gaps

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The Middle East’s youth unemployment rate of 25%, which is amongst the highest in the world, is partially attributable to  severe skills shortages in certain fields and a lack of opportunities for youth in others. Several empirical studies have shown a causal relationship between unequal distribution of qualified youth in different fields in the Arab World and high youth unemployment rates (Kapsos and Sparredom, 2011; Abdul latif et al., 2009; Tamkeen, 2010).

Causes of Unequal Distribution of Qualifications: Are Poor Career Decision Making Processes To Blame?

Arab youths have been found to show little recognition for the need to synchronize early career choices with aspirational values sought after in their careers over the long term. Consequently, the majority of youth in the Arab World when asked if they could ‘go back in time’ to make their career path decisions again respond that they would make a different choice (IFC, 2011). Such findings are indicative of low levels of early career decision satisfaction and high levels of regret in career choices made amongst Arab youth.

In terms of making career specialization decisions, youth in the Arab World rank the following values in order of importance

1. Job satisfaction

2. Good pay and opportunities for personal development

3. Broader contribution of employer

4. Opportunity to work with talented people

5. Opportunity to contribute to development of their country (Asdaa, 2009; Little, 2010).

The ranking of the desire to contribute to the development of their countries by Gulf Arab youth as one of the top values sought after in a career is of particular interest. Such findings suggest that an awareness of the positive economic contribution that efficiency in labor allocation could have on economic development in their countries during the career decision making process may encourage youth to consider career fields that face skills shortages or are otherwise overlooked (IFC, 2011). The ability to influence Arab youth to consider career specializations which face skills shortages early in their careers in the Gulf countries is of significant importance to regional governments in terms of limiting the number of expatriates required in certain fields and promoting private sector employment participation.

 Can ‘Prompting for Value-Ranking’ Influence Career Choices of Arab Youth?

Consumer behavior and decision sciences literature has shown that prompting respondents to rank their values prior to making decisions can yield positive results in terms of post-decision satisfaction and lower levels of regret. In a labor market context, asking youth in the Gulf Arab region to rank attribute values that they consider important when making career choices, prior to actually choosing a career path, could potentially influence the career choices they subsequently make. Commonly accepted theories in the West, such as the cobweb model, show that supply of particular labor market skills is highly related to the economics of a profession, such as expected salary, and other forces that signal ongoing job opportunities and the state of the market such as R&D, output levels, and competition from others with similar skills. However, forces signaling professional opportunity and market health can be more influential in motivating the supply of particular skillsets than salaries. From this perspective, Gulf Arab youth who are sufficiently aware of the contribution their career choice could have on the development of their countries can potentially be influenced to enter fields which they had previously not considered.

While behavioral interventions for better decisions have been found to be effective in Western societies (e.g.Thaler and Sunstein, 2008; Lenton et al., Volpp et al., 2008; Johnson and Goldstein, 2003; Kluger and DeNisi, 1998), including those involving the influence of values (e.g. Wooler, 1982; Ravlin and Meglino, 1987), such interventions have not been thoroughly tested in the  Gulf Arab region. Behavioral interventions affect career decision choice by prompting the decision maker to think through what they want out of a particular choice and the importance of considering values consistency when making an informed career choice. Given the low levels of career decision satisfaction amongst Arab youth, prompting for value ranking can potentially be used as a behavioral decision aid that would establish a mental link between values sought after and career choices, or at least an awareness of such a link (Wooler, 1982).

Our research specifically tests the effectiveness of behavioral interventions in motivating Gulf Arab youths to choose career disciplines which face skills shortages. We started with the working hypothesis that consideration of values in career choices would increase the number of high school and university students and recent graduates who chose or at least considered career paths with a labor supply need. This hypothesis was based on the assumption that respondents confronted with career choices in industries which face skills shortages would seek to align their value of contributing towards the development of their country with career choices that might lead to the resolution of labor market inefficiencies. We also tested more broadly whether better decisions, with regards to post-choice satisfaction, confidence, and fit with preferences, are made, as compared to when not prompted for ‘value-ranking.’ Based on international findings, youth in the Arab World would presumably be more satisfied with their career decisions when attribute value ranking is integrated into the career decision making process (Chernev, 2003).

The Unexpected Results of ‘Prompting for Value-Ranking’ in Career Choice

In contrast to predictions, our research shows that youth in the Gulf stick to more commonly chosen career disciplines rather than those which face skills shortages when prompted to rank career attribute values. Prompting for value ranking, therefore, seems to decrease the likelihood of Arab youths choosing career disciplines characterized by labor market gaps which are outside traditional career disciplines typically pursued by youth in the Gulf.  This reverse influence of the ‘prompting for value’ intervention on career choices emphasizes how unfamiliar youth in the Gulf Arab World are to considering values when making career choices. From a practical perspective, the low availability of information on labor market gaps and disciplines with higher labor demand suggests a low awareness of career disciplines that would satisfy the desire to contribute towards national development by entering fields with significant labor market demand. These findings highlight information asymmetries regarding potential career disciplines that have the potential to satisfy attribute values resulting in the unintended consequence of higher adherence to traditional career options due to high social regard and reputation (Al Omran, 2012).

Our results also illustrate an indifference in subjective measures of decision quality (satisfaction, confidence and perceived fit with preferences) when a behavioral intervention was integrated and when not. This is a potential indicator of the inapplicability of behavioral interventions in the Gulf Arab World due to students being unaccustomed to considering values when making career decisions, a finding that has also been demonstrated in previous research in the Arab World (IFC, 2011).

Potential solutions: In whose hands?

Our results highlight the ineffectiveness of behavioral interventions due to an absence of consideration of values and solid information in career choices of youth in the Gulf Arab World. The use of behavioral interventions depends on the assumption that decision makers have a certain degree of knowledge or awareness that would enable decision makers to ‘spot’ the best choice outcome. This knowledge of what particular occupations will be in demand seems to be absent in the Gulf Arab region (Fasolo and Bonini, 2010).  Addressing the lack of research and statistical information on labor market gaps and attribute values and features of career disciplines with labor demands is critical for youth in the Gulf Arab World to make more informed career choices that would benefit the labor market (IFC, 2011).

Moreover, the effect of myths that some occupations are ‘better’ or ‘inferior’ than others seem to be overriding an interest or consideration of labor market gaps and labor demands of certain disciplines. Therefore, despite the need for better information on labor market gaps in the Gulf Arab region, the power of word of mouth in shaping reputations of career disciplines in Arab societies could potentially override the influence of prompting for value ranking even with higher availability of information in the Arab World (Yousef, 2004; IFC, 2011). Given our evidence, the Gulf Arab World should focus on better information and awareness of prerequisite conditions (i.e. attribute values of career disciplines and labor market gaps) to enable youth to make more informed career decisions consistent with economic development ambitions.

Khamael Al Safi Khamael Al Safi

Khamael Al Safi specializes in the analysis and design of innovative organizational practices, and the development of tools and approaches for the governance of organizations and markets. Khamael has worked for the people and knowledge development functions of several organizations specialized in financial services, non-profit education and media and publishing. She has a particular interest in the role of behavioral decision making in human and organizational development and has focused her recent research on career choices of youth in the Gulf Arab world. She is a recent graduate of the London School of Economics where she studied for a MSc in Organisations and Governance.

Follow Khamael:

Khamael Al Safi on Academia.edu

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الوصول إلى كفاءة عالية في العمل الحكومي

يحصل التداخل في العمل الحكومي عندما تكون الجهة التنظيمية هي نفسها الجهة المقدمة للخدمات. ويكون ذلك مصدرا لانعدام الكفاءة خاصة عندما تقوم جهة بتقديم خدمة ما، وفي الوقت ذاته تضع هذه الجهة المعايير المطلوبة لتقديمها وتراقب عملية التنفيذ ومدى الامتثال لتلك المعايير. وينجم عن هذا التداخل انخفاض في جودة الخدمات المقدمة إلى المواطنين وربما انخفاض معايير الخدمات أيضا.

توجهت بعض الدول المتقدمة وخاصة تلك التابعة لمنظمة دول التعاون والتنمية (OECD) نحو الفصل بين الوظائف الحكومية في مطلع التسعينيات من القرن الماضي. واقترن هذا الفصل بإيمان تلك الدول بأن عمليات التنظيم المستقلة بإمكانها تقديم معالجة أفضل للغايات التي تصبو الحكومات الوصول إليها وهي تقديم خدمات ذات جودة عالية للمواطن. وقامت تلك الدول بالفصل بين عمليات صنع السياسات والتنظيم وتقديم الخدمات. وبهذا وضعت عملية التنظيم بمرتبة أدنى هيكليا من مرتبة صنع السياسات وبمرتبة أعلى من تقديم الخدمات. في هذه الدول، تقوم الحكومة المركزية متمثلة برئاسة الوزراء برسم الاتجاه العام التي تعمل بموجبها الجهات التنظيمية والجهات التي تعنى بتقديم الخدمات، بينما تكون الأجهزة التنظيمية، والمتمثلة بالوزراء أو رؤساء الوكالات المتخصصة، مسؤولة أمام القيادة السياسية وتضع المعايير والتعرفات واللوائح التنظيمية لتضمن أن الخدمات تفي بالمعايير المطلوبة. وتقوم الجهات المسؤولة عن تقديم الخدمات في هذه المنظومة بمراعاة الاتجاه العام الموضوع من قبل الحكومة المركزية والقوانين واللوائح التنظيمية الموضوعة من قبل الجهة المنظمة.


الحد من ازدواجية الوظائف الحكومية من خلال إنشاء وكالات متخصصة

قامت بعض الدول مثل الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية وأستراليا وسنغافورة بفصل الوظائف الحكومية المتعلقة بالتنظيم وتقديم الخدمات من خلال إسنادها إلى وكالات حكومية متخصصة (Government Agencies) لضمان الشفافية وتعزيز الكفاءة الحكومية.

يتمخض عن هذه الأنظومة الحكومية الجديدة عدة إيجابيات أهمها: زيادة قدرة المؤسسات المقدّمة للخدمات على التركيز على كفاءة الإنتاج بدون تشتيت الموارد المالية والبشرية على المواضيع المتعلقة بعملية إعداد السياسات، تحديد المسؤوليات بشكل واضح للتسهيل من عملية الرقابة على مقدّم الخدمات وضمان الجودة مقابل التكلفة، الحد من احتكار المعلومات المتعلقة بتكاليف الخدمات وجودتها من قبل جهة واحدة للمساهمة في تحقيق التوازن بين وجهات النظر الأكاديمية والعملية، ووضع اللبنة الأساسية للتحول نحو خصخصة الوظائف الحكومية في المستقبل.

إلا أن فصل عملية إعداد السياسات عن التخطيط والتنظيم من جهة وتقديم الخدمات من جهة أخرى يؤثر على إمكانية تبادل المعلومات بين الهيئات الحكومية مما قد يؤدي إلى عدم اتساق السياسات والبرامج الخدمية. بالإضافة إلى ذلك يؤدي فصل المعلومات والخبرات بين الجهات على التأخير في اتخاذ القرارات والحد من القدرة على تحويل الموارد المالية بسهولة بين البرامج والقطاعات والتي قد تحتاج إلى موارد إضافية في وقت الأزمات. لذلك يتطلب هذا النموذج تخصيص موارد مالية وبشرية كبيرة لضمان النجاح في التطبيق.

أمن الضروري أن تتخذ الدول العربية قرارات بتوزيع الوظائف الحكومية لضمان جودة الخدمات المقدمة للمواطنين؟ وهل تعد الحكومات العربية جاهزة لفصل الوظائف الحكومية؟ وهل توجد خصوصيات تمنع الحكومات العربية من اتخاذ هذه الخطوة؟ ما هي المتطلبات التي يجب تواجدها لإنجاح هذه العملية؟ سنقوم في الأسابيع القادمة بمناقشة هذه المواضيع من خلال مدونتنا. لذلك ندعوكم لزيارة هذا الموقع والاطلاع على آراءنا بشأن ضمان كفاءة وفعالية الإدارة الحكومية في العالم العربي

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The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean cites Tahseen Consulting’s research while discussing the impact of workforce skills gaps on small and medium enterprise development in their 2013 Latin American Economic Outlook: SME Policies for Structural Change.

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