Minister urges students to make right career choices

January 12, 2011

Bahrain’s labour minister has warned of difficult times ahead for graduates if private colleges did not tie up their programmes with the needs of the labour market.

“There is a need to have graduates in fields that are required by the labour market,” Majeed Al Alawi said. “Otherwise, we will end up with a large number of graduates from private colleges with degrees in fields that will not be in high demand. The problem is that universities and colleges offer courses that are wanted by the students, and not by the labour market,” the minister said in a talk show hosted by Bahrain TV to focus on the government’s action plans for the next four years.

All competent institutions, including the labour ministry, should focus on the issue now and find solutions, he said.

Higher education institutions mushroomed in Bahrain in the last decade, mainly after thousands of Gulf nationals opted not to send their sons and daughters to the West for university degrees amid concerns about discrimination against Arabs and Muslims in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Bahrain has 17 private universities and colleges, offering graduate and post-graduate degrees in several fields. Following a series of controversies amid allegations of management and academic irregularities, the education ministry took several actions to address the situation and force the colleges to comply with regulations. However, the syllabus remained within the realm of the higher learning institutions.

Al Alawi said that the right career path choices have to be made early by the students and their parents to avoid disappointment at a later stage.

“We regularly seek, through the High Education Council, to inform private schools about the orientations of the Bahraini market to ensure they make the right choices,” he said. “We have also for the last eight years regularly sent a list of the jobs in high demand in Bahrain to the education ministry. The list invariably covers the next five years,” he said.

Al Alawi, a former London-based opposition figure who joined the government in 2002 and given the labour portfolio, said that giving students insights into the labour market orientations was part of an integrated strategy by the labour ministry to keep unemployment rates in Bahrain around four per cent.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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