Educating executives: The nation’s shift to a knowledge-based workforce will require more local managers

The government anticipates that immigration will continue to be an important factor in Qatar’s development strategy, but at the same time, it is also implementing several initiatives to help attract more citizens into key roles within the domestic market. Qatarisation is one of the main elements of the government’s long-term economic vision. Under this agenda, the government seeks to help Qataris rise to positions of leadership, particularly in regulated sectors that depend on public financing such as the energy sector. This move has created demand for leadership training and development.

SCHOOL DAYS: Several education institutions have set up regional offices in Qatar and are now tapping into the demand for business education. HEC Paris in Qatar, for example, joined Qatar Foundation (QF) in 2010 and delivers an executive education degree in Doha. HEC was the first institution to offer an executive MBA (EMBA) degree in the country, and graduated its first EMBA class of 31 students in May 2012. “The government's economic diversification strategy is helping position Qatari companies on a regional and global stage,” said Joshua Kobb, the chief operating officer of HEC Paris in Qatar. “As this trend continues, the demand for skilled management will increase across the public and private sectors with a particular focus on developing these skills within the national population. QF’s investments in attracting global players in the management education including HEC Paris in Qatar will play a vital role in meeting this demand.”

The College of the North Atlantic Qatar (CNA-Q) offers another programme that has diversified into executive education. CNA-Q’s School of Business Studies had the largest percentage of enrolled students out of the college’s programmes.

Other major players include the Qatar Skills Academy (QSA). The institution gives training courses tailored for corporations, including Qtel and the Qatar Financial Business Academy, which concentrate on public sector leadership. The QSA supports small and medium-sized enterprises in addition to more traditional corporations, and the institution has developed a centre to assist and advise entrepreneurs.

INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Outside Qatar, neighbouring countries such as the UAE also have management training options. Dubai International Academic City, for example, hosts several globally recognised universities that offer business degrees.

Smaller firms are also actively participating in the sector. Potential, a Dubai-based firm, offers web-based training as a cheaper alternative for firms to access workforce development training programmes.

ECONOMIC SHIFT: The growth in the executive education sector reflects core changes in the local and regional economy. The push for Qatarisation is one contributing factor. Qatar’s rapid economic growth has also caused a gap between the supply and demand for trained leadership. The executive training programmes are increasingly seen as mandatory for Qatari nationals serving in senior leadership positions as Qatari firms are now competing on a global platform.

The Qatarisation policy has had unintended consequences on how firms invest in their staff. Many companies are increasingly reluctant to invest in training foreign staff, for example. The transition to a knowledge-based economy will require the active participation of Qatar’s entire workforce, including its significant numbers of expatriate workers. Investments in education therefore will need to target development and training for the entire working population.

Ken Macleod, the president of CNA-Q is optimistic about the future demand for leadership education and training, especially in technical disciplines. “There is plenty of room for new entrants into the market. The important thing is to establish not only a need but a desire by the population to take up such training positions,” he said. “The largest growth sectors going forward for technical and vocational training are business and engineering. These areas have a well established place within the private sector and continually adapt to the changing needs of the business community.”

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The Report: Qatar 2012

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