Fostering a career-driven culture among Qataris

Nation-wide study identifies concrete steps towards cultivating human and professional development in Qatar through career guidance

Qatar has embarked on a journey of investing in its people and workforce. In support of this vision, numerous studies have taken place on the topic of human capital development among Qatari youth. However, little has been done on keeping track of the progress made on the career guidance, planning and development front.

In attempting to provide a more comprehensive study while building on the existing body of research, Qatar Career Development Center (QCDC) undertook a 12-month research initiative entitled ‘Careering Towards A Sustainable Qatari Economy’, focusing exclusively on the Qatari population. Among other research techniques, the research comprised of a survey sample of over 1,000 students, graduates and parents, as well as respondents from various segments of senior stakeholders across the government and private sectors.

The ‘Role of career guidance in aligning the aspirations and skills of Qatar’s youth with the needs of the Qatari economy’ was the main theme behind the research that evaluated the perceptions and attitude towards career awareness and development in Qatar. Its purpose: to expand on the existing body of research by focusing on the central topic of ‘career culture’ and how this latter can be inculcated while taking into consideration the vital need to diversify the economy beyond the traditional oil and gas resource sector.

The research covered areas of concern such as: career awareness and motivation, educational preferences, career development behaviors and needs, as well as challenges that Qatar faces.

The findings and interpretations of this study are intended to guide the formulation and implementation of career development and guidance-related programs, initiatives and activities nationwide. The results of the report outline how career guidance can further contribute to the advancement of Qatar through a greater understanding of labor market dynamics, and the need for the development of a qualified and skilled workforce.

This research is ultimately intended to support the creation of an integrated, coordinated career development body that supports, monitors and regulates career guidance and development in Qatar. As a result, it will not only assist QCDC in fine-tuning its career guidance strategies but will also serve as a reference document for other stakeholders across the public and private sectors with a commitment to promoting human and professional development in Qatar.

Research Objectives
1. To evaluate the extent of Qatari stakeholders’ understanding of the ‘Career/ Career Guidance’ concept, of the ‘Career vs. Job’ comparison and of the objectives, purpose, role, benefits, and opportunities that these activities bring to Qatari citizens.

2. To evaluate the extent of contribution and usefulness of career development in Qatar, as well as towards replacing a public ‘job-oriented’ culture with a ‘career-oriented’ culture.

3. To evaluate and describe current challenges that the career development system in Qatar faces in achieving the vision, as set out in the human capital development pillar of the Qatar National Vision 2030.

4. To evaluate current perceptions and attitudes towards career awareness and development initiatives among key stakeholder groups.

5. To evaluate the need to create a standardized, centralized, coordinated body for career development that meets the needs of the students, parents, labor market, and training and education institutions.

6. To understand what important services, activities or features should be introduced in the future towards implementing a national career development framework.

Research Findings
The outcome of the research led to the development of five major themes:

• Theme 1: Career Awareness
It was evident that there is a need at a national level to improve strategies that support students and parents in developing their knowledge of alternative career paths and job opportunities available in Qatar, such as nursing, teaching, human resources, information technology, and marketing. As such, a more synergized connection is required between career development and education that exposes young students to a variety of career paths.

• Theme 2: Social Influence
The research examined the extent to which social influences play a role in shaping student career choices in Qatar. In order to avail better opportunities and a better way of life, a clear match between the needs of the country and that of young Qatari graduates are required. Choosing the most appropriate career path is becoming critical for young Qataris if they are going to play their part in creating a prosperous and sustainable Qatar and contributing to meeting the aspirations of the Qatar National Vision.

• Theme 3: Skills Gap
There are careers today that did not exist generations ago and that will cease to exist in the mid to long-term future, and Qatar has already explored the growing skills gap as a major challenge that threatens economic growth. As a result, better collaboration is needed between the private sector and higher education to ensure that appropriately educated and skilled graduates enter the economy.

• Theme 4: Career Guidance
Through effective career guidance initiatives, Qatar can help nationals acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and experience needed so that they are better prepared to participate in a modern, global economy that improves knowledge-based services. Therefore, this study covers the existing career guidance and counseling programs and services, trying to provide a better understanding as to their potency.

• Theme 5: Qatarization
The Qatarization initiative was designed to attract, employ, develop and retain a competent Qatari workforce of males and females in the government and private sectors and contribute to the human capital development pillar of the Qatar National Vision 2030. Qatarization has an objective to provide 50 percent or more, of Qatari citizens with meaningful permanent employment. As such the effectiveness of this initiative is also part of what this study attempts to scrutinize.

The recommendations that came out as a result of this research are aimed at providing practical guidelines and identifying priority areas. They are intended to inform policymakers on the areas of career development, education and training requirements. They are also intended to encourage all stakeholders in career development to examine their operating models, systems, practices, standards and relationships to deliver greater collaboration. Here are some recommendations in brief:

• Develop a national career service/strategy
A national career development body that is centralized, integrated and coordinated should be established. This entity should deliver strategies, policies, services and programs that will enable students and graduates to make effective career decisions that have an impact both on their future, and the future of Qatar.

• Promote the private sector
A specific strategy should be developed to establish the private sector as a viable and alternative career choice as opposed to more traditional roles in the government or in oil and gas.

• Provide labor market information
Additional research should be conducted to obtain a deeper understanding of the labor market and to identify the necessary future skills that Qatar needs to be a globally competitive economy.

• Provide career awareness
The depth and quality of career information needs to be elevated to enable students and parents to make more informed career decisions.

• Encourage female graduate workforce participation
The high rate of female graduate unemployment needs to be addressed by supporting the needs, aspirations and level of participation of female graduates in the national workforce.

• Develop the right skills
A national skills development policy should be developed, aimed at improving the quality and quantity of relevant skills needed in the labor market.

• Create a career service governance framework
This framework will provide governance and controls for the career development service to foster a culture of continuous improvement.

Pull Quote
“Equipping the workforce with diverse skills that can support the current and future needs of an economy is essential to the long-term sustainability of any nation.”
– Abdulla Al-Mansoori, Director, Qatar Career Development Center

Credits: Information extracted from ‘Careering Towards A Sustainable Qatari Economy’, a QCDC national research study report