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“Moving Operationally to Strategically Enhance Career Guidance in the State of Qatar”

1) Overview

Qatar Career Development Center (QCDC), member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, hosts this year the second edition of the “Qatar Career Guidance Stakeholders Platform,” in partnership with the UNESCO Doha Office and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. It comes as commitment on the part of Qatar Career Development Center to deliver on the priorities stipulated by H.H. the Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani related to the current Gulf situation and the future directions of Qatar. Key among such priorities is “investing in human development” as a powerful means for building Qatar’s “economic independence” and “protecting its national security”. To achieve such a desired state of affairs, the speech of His Highness did, among other things, indicate the significance of identifying “the shortcomings and obstacles in determining Qatar’s national, political, economic and independent identity and in deciding to overcome and surpass these obstacles.”

In light of the spirit of His Highness’s speech, and for purposes of contributing to the process of human development in Qatar, there is a felt need to strategically address a wide range of shortcomings and obstacles related to the process of transforming Qatar’s existing career guidance system, which is at its early stages of development, into “a well-developed” system. Such a system will help Qatari youth and Qatar’s “future generations” to discover, develop and use their talent to jointly satisfy their future “needs and aspirations” and the future needs of the Qatari economy.

To that end, this year’s platform seeks to actively engage stakeholders in the process of developing “a well-integrated career guidance system in Qatar”, i.e. developing a system which is capable of helping Qatari youth to discover, develop and use their talent to jointly satisfy their future “needs and aspirations” and the future needs of the Qatari economy.

Clearly, developing such a system is only possible in the long-run. This implies that contributions of the platform to developing “a well-integrated career guidance system in Qatar” are expected to be on cumulative basis. Approached from such a perspective, this year’s platform will be organized on the basis of the 2016 platform’s recommendations and actions taken to effectively implement those recommendations during the July 2016-June 2017 time- period.

The 2016 platform edition was a day-long event organized in May 2016. It brought together more than 150 experts from various educational, labor market, career development centers, youth empowerment and national level planning and development agencies in addition to other institutions. Through focus group methodology, platform delegates concentrated on reviewing and validating empirical evidence on challenges and opportunities related to how best to develop and support career guidance as a powerful means for personal, social, educational, and economic success of young Qataris, in particular, and the Qatari society, in general. Based on such a methodology, specific sets of strategic and operational recommendations were developed and validated.

To experiment with implementation of both types of system improvement recommendations, specific sets of actions were taken during the July 2016-June 2017 time-period. Assessment of such actions revealed the significance of two interrelated issues. The first one indicates that it is critically important to shift focus from engaging “individuals” to engaging “institutions”. This means that effective utilization of the platform’s results does, among other things, require commitment of the institutions concerned- and not just personal commitment of individual experts. On the other hand, the second issue suggests that there is an urgent need to pay equal attention to long-term as well as short-term system improvement actions.

Taken together, these two issues reveal that in addition to ensuring institutional level of commitment and cross sectoral collaboration, various stakeholders do, for practical reasons, need to entertain the “duality” of experiencing immediate, short-term, benefits while paving the way for strategic, long-term system enhancement.

As such, and for purposes of maximizing returns for various stakeholders, this year’s platform seeks to mobilize “cross-sectoral collaboration” to address strategic and tactical issues critical to developing Qatar’s career guidance system as “a well-integrated system”. To that end, all institutions that have stakes in career guidance will be invited as “participant institutions”. Representatives of those institutions will be divided into three types of breakout sessions. The first one is round table discussion groups concentrating on strategic, national level, issues central to developing a “well-integrated career guidance system in Qatar”. Here, effort will be devoted to development of concrete actions needed to operationally move towards developing national level career guidance framework, standards, policies, labor market information, technology driven career guidance services and resources and enhancement of entrepreneurship practices.

To complement the strategic, national level set of issues, the second and third types of breakout sessions will pay adequate attention to short-term improvements. Based on this, a selected set of stakeholders will take part in focus group meetings dedicated to discussion of four examples of best career guidance practices in Qatar. The purpose is to present, discuss and explore possibilities of disseminating such practices in order to maximize their chances of improving service delivery within other settings and widening their overall impact. In addition, and for short-terms benefits, five tailor-made training workshops will be delivered to four types of target audience including school principals, counselors, students and their parents.

2) Theme

Based on the rationale behind the centrality of addressing strategic as well as tactical issues related to system-wide development of career guidance in the State of Qatar, the theme of this year’s platform reads as follows: “Moving operationally to strategically enhance career guidance” through cross-sectoral collaboration.

3) Objectives:

The overall objective of this year’s platform is to build on the results of its previous editions through mobilizing cross-sectoral collaboration in order to:

  • Consolidate the platform as a viable national networking and synergy building mechanism for strategic and operational enhancement of career guidance in Qatar.
  • Develop foundational work needed to realistically address operational and strategic issues and concerns related to the process of developing a career guidance system which is responsive to the needs of Qatari youth and those of the Qatari Economy.
  • Engage a selected set of stakeholder institutions in effective implementation of the career guidance component of the “Education and Training Sector Strategy”, which is part of Qatar’s 2017-2022 National Plan.
  • Present and discuss examples of successful career guidance practices in Qatar for purposes of disseminating them and widening their overall impact.
  • Provide career guidance related learning and development opportunities for school principals, counselors, students and their parents.
  • Develop a post-platform action plan based on operational moves to strategic enhancement of career guidance in the State of Qatar.
  • Utilize the platform’s outcomes to:
  • Revisit, up-date and disseminate stakeholders’ views on, and insights into, how best to develop a sustainable career guidance system based on the contextual specificities of the State of Qatar.
  • Explore ways and means through which this platform could serve an advisory role for career guidance policy makers in the State of Qatar.

4) Method of Engaging the 2018 Platform Participants

As illustrated in the above section, the 2016 platform’s recommendations and post-platform implementation actions strongly indicated that while some achievements have been made, more effort needs to be invested through increasing synergies in order to move forward. As such, and in as much as the platform focuses on the education, training, labor market, information and communication technology components of career guidance, this year’s platform is explicitly designed for active engagement of key Qatari institutions involved in such areas of specialization. Also, other stakeholders like independent career guidance institutions and researchers, students, parents of school students, regional/international career development oriented organizations like Namaa, Injaz-Qatar, and Silatec will be active platform participants.

Examples of such stakeholder institutions include Ministry Education and Higher Education, Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Family Affairs, Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics, Ministry of Communications and Transport, Ministry of Culture, Sport and Youth, Qatar University, Qatar Foundation’s Education City, Qatar Community College, College of the North Atlantic in Qatar, Private sector’s Education and Training Institutions, National Talent Development Committees in institutions like Hamad Medical Corporation, Qatar Petroleum and its subsidiaries, Ooredoo, Sidra, Heritage and Legacy and Qatar Airways.

Therefore, representatives of those stakeholder institutions operating in public, private and mixed-sectors of the Qatari economy will be invited as active participants. Based on their relevant experience and expertise, all participants will be distributed into three types of breakout sessions including:

4.1) Four Round Table Discussion Groups

Four round table discussion groups will be formed and each one of them will be composed of high level policy and decision-making participants representing various stakeholder institutions. The joint objective of those groups is to develop concrete actions needed to operationally move towards development of career guidance in Qatar along four strategic dimensions. Expressed in terms of topical discussion areas, these dimensions relate to addressing Qatar’ situational givens in order to provide foundational work needed to develop: (1) national level career guidance framework, standards and policies (2) stakeholder’s roles in, and responsibilities for implementing Qatar’s career guidance strategy for 2017-2022, (3) technology driven career guidance services and resources, and (4) UNESCO’s career guidance standards related to TVET.

To that end, each round table discussion group will concentrate on one of the above mentioned four strategic topical areas. In addition, members of each of those groups will be engaged in a reflective process to address strategic, national level, issues pertinent to their group’s topic of discussion. This means that each group will operate separately and will be required to develop concrete sets of actions needed to operationally move towards developing career guidance in Qatar along a specific dimension. As such, it is expected that the round table discussion groups will produce foundational work needed to develop national level, and Qatar specific, career guidance framework, education and labor market information system, active involvement of various stakeholders in Qatar’s 5-year career guidance strategy, technology driven career guidance services and resources, and benchmark educational standards and quality criteria developed by UNESCO in as far as career guidance is concerned.

4.2) Six Knowledge and Practice Exchange Discussion Groups

To complement the round table discussion of strategic issues, six knowledge and practice exchange groups will be formed to deal with a specific set of short-term issues. To that end, each of those groups will discuss an example of best career guidance practices in Qatar. The six examples include: (1) Maximizing the impact of career guidance on national talent development programs (2) employability skills development program for university students, (3) further development of entrepreneurship practices in Qatar, (4) career development framework for students with special abilities, (5) Integrated career guidance in the secondary education curriculum – the Finnish experience, and (6) Assessing the life-skills program implemented across secondary schools in Qatar

Drawing on the above, each of the six groups will be pursuing a two-fold objective. This pertains to, firstly, familiarizing its participants with a pre-selected best practice example and, secondly, discussing and exploring possibilities of disseminating such an example in order to maximize its chances of improving service delivery within other settings and widening its overall impact.

4.3) Two Tailor-made Workshops

In addition, the day after the Platform and also for purposes of long-term benefits, two tailor- made training workshops will be delivered to four types of target audience including policy makers, decision makers, school principals, counselors,. The overall purpose of such workshops is to

  1. Present to executive level stakeholders the career guidance as a subsystem of public interest that interacts with, and adds value to, Qatar’s education, training and labour market systems
  2. Enhance the knowledge and skills of career guidance and development practitioners in Qatar and raise the standards of their practice.

As a result, and needs based on prioritized sets of training, an overarching goal of these workshops is to reflect options for a representative structure, which would have a role to follow up the recommendations of the Career Guidance Stakeholders Engagement Platform.

Download Platform Agenda