Posted on May 19, 2015

Qatar Career Fair (QCF), a member of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), recently held a validation session expanding on the outcomes and issues addressed during the Qatar Career Forum 2015.

The Forum was part of QCF’s continued efforts in supporting Qatar Foundation on its mission to support the growth and development of the country by unlocking human potential through a variety of projects and programmes; ultimately equipping young people with the desired skills and motivation for their future careers. The validation session, held at the Hamad Bin Khalifa University Student Center within Qatar Foundation’s Education City, centered on the various viewpoints and issues presented by four focus groups formed during the Forum.A comprehensive report was then compiled containing outcomes and recommendations based on the discussion of these groups.

The report explored growth avenues and opportunities to support career guidance, foster a harmonious environment in matching education to labour market demand, and contribute to shaping local leaders and professionals that are capable of achieving the Qatar National Vision 2030. Drawing on the participants’ diverse expertise and backgrounds, the focus groups included:Career Guidance Decision Makers, Policy makers and Researchers Group;Qatari Parents and Youth Group; Career Guidance Practitioners Group; and Career Guidance Knowledge Exchange Group.

Coming to a successful close, the Qatar Career Forum 2015 validation session resulted in a definitive action plan,building on the outcomes and recommendations that were agreed upon by the groups. It will now be shared with relevant stakeholders for future implementation. This plan is premised on a holistic vision to put in place policies and processes that elevate the Qatari youth career path, and one that reinforces the educational output and competences while tying them into the labour market needs and demands.

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Qatari Parents and Youth Group

Deliberating on the outcomes of the discussions,the Qatari Parents and Youth Group – considered among the primary and immediate stakeholders of career guidance– called for official supervision and monitoring of academic counselors by the Supreme Education Council (SEC), and for the adoption and rollout of programmes similar to the ‘Qatar Career Fair Ambassadors Program’ and focused on workshops and value-adding agenda. Moreover, the group recommended that specialised schools covering various fields and supervised by private institutions – such as business and technical schools – should be established in line with the labour market demands and needs.

The group has also urged the various players to raise student awareness around the Qatar National Vision 2030 through several initiatives – such as hosting guest presentations by the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics – in order to acquaint the students with this vision and acknowledge its importance. To this end, the group has called on schools to host college students, professionals and prominent figures across various fields and small business owners who can exchange and share their expertise and experience in post-graduate education and different specialisation.

Likewise, the group’s recommendations focused on encouraging students to assume their responsibilities and be fully self-dependent in taking career decisions, and incentivising them to join volunteer work and enrol in summer training programmes to acquire and strengthen their professional skills, discover their interests and explore growth opportunities. The group also urged parents to actively get involved in school meetings - particularly those concerned with advising and directing students academically and professionally - calling for more collaboration between parents, schools and local communities for this purpose, and for more awareness around the needs and demands of the Qatari labour market to direct students’ competencies and interests toward them.

Decision Makers, Policy Makers and Researchers Group

The Decision Makers, Policy Makers and Researchers Group set clear recommendations to the backdrop of a constructive debate that was stirred during the session in the presence of a number of stakeholders. These recommendations were three-fold. The first aspect focused on a dire need for career counselling across the various stages of professional and personal development, which will reflect positively, not only on individuals, but also on business owners, educational institutions and the community as a whole. In this regard, the group highlighted several practices that need to be integrated into university or the national framework in order to maximise the efficiency of the efforts and resources poured into them.

Focusing on policies, the second urged schools to look into recruiting more Qatari teachers, set a future plan and job projections for a time period of no less than 15 years, and take into consideration the varying academic levels, interests and competencies of students when envisioning future career opportunities. It also demanded that certain mechanisms and tools emerging out of the Qatari community itself be put in place to cater to the local needs.

Additionally, the group also highlighted the importance of providing five-year job data, growing the contribution of academic counsellors with financial and moral support, driving innovation in academia, increasing the number of scholarships and maintaining the balance between sectors and specialisations. Talking of legislations, the group stressed the need to devise a legal modern framework that organises professional development and counselling and makes career training mandatory for students, touching upon the necessity of reformulating and readapting academic curriculums.

Furthermore, regarding the build-up of institutional and individual capabilities recommended, the  group stressed on the need to expand through the establishment of career centres for training and career development, the importance of having professional licenses for all state employees – including those in the education field – the ease of student movement from technical to independent schools as well as from high school and college education to employment and vice versa, and the need to set rigorous quality standards for teachers.

With regards to coordination and collaboration between various stakeholders, the group emphasised the need to establish a central body tasked with counselling, and to determine a mechanism for coordination and collaboration between various stakeholders. As a result, it suggested to organise meetings that would determine academic counsellors’ job descriptions and requirements.

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Career Guidance Knowledge Exchange Group

In a highly interactive and immersive discussion, the Career Guidance Knowledge Exchange Group mapped out key problems, challenges and opportunities facing the career guidance field, and presented its recommendations with regards to strategic policies that have been adopted and next steps that need to be taken.

Naturally, these recommendations focused on the need to reinforce knowledge exchange, participation and strategic collaboration and coordination between concerned and influential institutions and companies, education sector players, governing bodies and ministerial committees in Qatar. The recommendations have called for the setup of a representative committee that would bring under its umbrella various associations and interest groups, strengthen communication between concerned parties and offer a large network of information exchange. As such, it stressed the need to organise the Qatar Career Forum on an annual basis in addition to other, more specialised career-centred forums; and on the need to have a greater involvement from the Ministry of Labour and the Supreme Education Council with all career and development guidance practices in the State of Qatar.

Most importantly, the group stressed the need to build a platform from concerned parties that would engage in knowledge exchange and information sharing across fields, and providing data, studies and surveys assessing the labour market and its evolution. The group asked parents to learn more around scholarships and be more involved in school meetings. It called to grow the pool and knowledge of academic counsellors and advisors in schools – focusing on the importance of catering to students’ needs, and establishing a local training programme for career guidance experts and professionals.

Career Guidance Practitioners Group

The Career Guidance Practitioners Group underlined the need to have a supreme official authority sponsoring specialised centres for career guidance, to nurture and grow a culture of career guidance, orientation and development through media channels, and to conduct field studies and public surveys to assess the current career guidance situation and set an action plan for better future practices. It also stressed the importance of establishing a complete database that is accessible to academics and professionals, and of holding a yearly edition of the Qatar Career Forum.