Towards a New Generation of Engaged Universities:
The Need to Act, Adapt and Transform

16th – 18thApril, 2024 | Kempinski Central Avenue (Formerly the Address Dubai Mall), Dubai, UAE

Panel Discussion 2

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Title: “Improving Students’ Employability: Opportunities and Challenges in an Ever Changing Landscape”
Chair: Prof. Jan Sadlak, President, IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence, France

Panel Members:
1. Prof. Riyad Y Hamzah, President, University of Bahrain, Bahrain
2. Dr. Karim Seghir, Chancellor, Ajman University, UAE
3. Prof. Muhammadou M.O. Kah, Vice President of Academic Affairs/Provost & Professor of Information Technology & Computing, American University of Nigeria, Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria
4. Prof. Ali Hamie, Assistant to the President for Quality Assurance & Dean, College of Engineering, Arts, Sciences & Technology University (AUL), Lebanon[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]Panel Brief:

Youth unemployment is one of the biggest challenges facing our global economy; according to the World Economic Forum, there are today 73 million young people between the age of 16 and 24 that are unemployed. This issue is especially relevant to the Arab region which is considered one of the most youthful regions in the world. Youth unemployment rates are of 27.2% in the Middle East and more than 29% in North Africa (1) which is more than double the global average. With more than half of the region’s population being under the age of 25 entering the labor market every year this makes the issue a key priority to be considered by higher education.

Equipping graduates with the necessary skills and competencies required to find a job and maintain a career is one of the key responsibilities of higher education institutions and so is the issue of trying to address the education-employment gap. Employers have constantly been reporting their concerns about graduates’ skills and job readiness and as a result several accreditation agencies nationally and internationally have been looking at how HEIs are integrating industry views with the development and revision of their curricula.

There are several strategies that can be adopted to help bridge the education- employment gap that require the Higher Education sector to join forces with the public and private sectors and policy makers. Some of these strategies are primarily of the concern of universities such as curriculum reforms to ensure these reflect the 21st century skills and are up-to-date; new pedagogies to be integrated within the teaching and learning process that support student centricity and competency based learning; increasing the partnership between universities and employers for the purpose of ensuring programs respond to the market needs, developing the workforce through experience and ‘on the job training’ training and exploring how technology can be used to deepen and improve students skills. Others are concerned with Policy makers who will need to devise funding strategies to sustain the increasing demand on higher edcuation coped with the need to maintain quality; the need to establish incentives and mechanisms to increase the collaboration between universities and both the public and private sector and the need to constantly provide information about their respective country and region’s job requirements. Employers on the other hand will need to enhance the dialogue with universities and be willing to develop the workforce. This panel will highlight and discuss some of these strategies and how these were adopted in specific contexts and institutions. It will also look at some of the key challenges associated with this process.

Intended Outcomes of the Panel:

  • Highlight the role of universities in addressing the education- employment gap and how other stakeholders including government and private sector may contribute to narrowing the gap
  • Address how market needs and requirements can best be communicated and shared with higher education to improve alignment
  • Discuss some of the key challenges universities may face in addressing the issue of education-employment gap
  • Provide examples/ good practices of specific initiatives that proved to be effective within institutions/ regions
  • Propose strategies used/adopted/employed on how to collectively address the education- employment gap

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