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Case study

Improving women's access to quality technical and vocational education in the GCC

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Integrating women into the 4th Industrial Revolution

A recurring theme in the national development strategies of many GCC countries is the need to boost female employment in emerging technical fields. Although GCC women are increasingly active in higher education, they remain concentrated in non-technical, non-priority sectors inconsistent with national economic ambitions. Tahseen Consulting was asked to explore the regulatory, systemic, and socio-cultural barriers to female TVET enrollment and technical employment in the GCC countries.

Going beyond the numbers

In partnership with a UN institution, we conducted extensive interviews across the GCC with policymakers, training center administrators, and TVET educators. The subsequent study featured a comprehensive assessment of technical and vocational programs within secondary and post-secondary institutions, and public and private training centers. As a result, we were able to identify the specific socio-cultural, educational, labor market obstacles and policies that prevent women from enrolling in TVET and working in technical fields.

Identifying good practice across the region

In light of common market and institutional failures in existing TVET systems, we advanced a conceptual framework for an integrated, systemic approach to national skills formation systems guided by government intervention. Using this framework, we identified good practice across the GCC to determine existing programs, initiatives, and policy reforms countries were leveraging to restore investment in skills, provide adequate regulation, and coordinate stakeholders.

Formulating an female-focused TVET agenda

This extensive, GCC-wide study led to an agenda containing specific recommendations for each of the GCC countries on how to encourage women to enroll in TVET programs and enter technical professions. These recommendations focused on improving governance and oversight to aligning TVET systems with labor market needs, eliminating gender bias in educational pathways, adopting female-friendly workplace practices, and data collection to appraise progress.


To formalize a basis for cross-national engagement and training, we supported the convention of ministers of education from each GCC nation led by a UN institution. The meeting accelerated discussions on a GCC Qualifications Framework to promote mobility and qualifications portability. Furthermore, many of the GCC countries leveraged the recommendations to formulate and integrate state-level plans to increase female TVET participation and employment into national development strategies and labor market programs.