Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) is an important priority in Qatar’s education development policies as the country seeks to build a highly skilled workforce. TVET centres are continuing to expand their offerings of evening and part-time courses to accommodate schedules of those already employed and encourage ongoing professional development.
Vocational training is emphasised in Qatar National Vision 2030 (QNV 2030), the country’s development strategy to diversify the economy and reduce dependency on hydrocarbons, as a means of producing a knowledge-based economy and increasing job opportunities for Qataris. On a regional scale members of the GCC are currently working to develop a strategic plan for cooperation in TVET. While details of the strategy were being finalised at the end of 2018, Khalid Al Ali, assistant undersecretary for education and director for higher education institutions affairs, told local press the partnership is promising. “The Gulf countries are keen to have a very good vocational education system as the market needs highly skilled professionals,” he said. “We are trying hard to prepare such skilled workers for the market in Qatar,” noting Qatar is already home to schools such as City College and College of the North Atlantic Qatar (CNA-Q).
Qatar’s commitment to bolstering its vocational training is shown with the opening of City College, a business-focused vocational college formed in partnership with the University of Portsmouth, in September 2018. The college offers credit-based programmes certified by the Business and Technology Education Council in the UK that offer a fast-track for those seeking an alternative to the traditional bachelor’s degree or individuals already employed in the industry.
The courses offered at City College have been tailored to meet the needs of the Qatari market and economy, offering programmes for industries in both government and private entities. Part-time and evening programmes are also offered to cater to employees wishing to pursue continuing studies. By partnering with the University of Portsmouth, City College aims to leverage the reputation, experience and expertise of its UK partner, which has trained thousands of students to date.
CNA-Q, a national technical college that offers over 30 diploma programmes in Qatar, was established in 2002. CNA-Q has worked closely with the Qatari government to meet the demands of the workplace and to build the country’s knowledge-based economy in line with QNV 2030. The success of the TVET offerings in Qatar is dependent on a thorough understanding of the Qatari economy and skills gap in the market. To that end, in April 2018 CNA-Q organised an international experts meeting on TVET in co-operation with the Qatar National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, UNESCO and other entities to establish a research agenda on the role of TVET in Qatar. Further development of vocational and continuing learning offerings will be imperative in supporting Qatar’s efforts to move away from a resource-based economy to a more knowledge-based one.
Technology is seen as a critical element in addressing the skill gaps in Qatar and the wider region as the jobs of the future will increasingly be in areas such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality. These are areas around which today’s educational institutions will need to focus on tailoring their course offerings in the future.
A booming young population, high levels of employment in the public sector, a gender work gap and rigid labour market regulations serve as both challenges and opportunities for Qatar as it continues to work to address the skills gap and keep up with industries’ growing need for technical skills.
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