Lack of essential digital proficiency marked as major obstacle for job seekers in GCC.

Ezzo: Being ready for today’s job market requires more than knowledge in Internet, email and common office applications
  
UAE, April 22, 2014 – ICDL GCC Foundation, an organisation dedicated to promoting digital skills and cyber safety for-all across the Gulf region, has announced that fresh university graduates in the GCC are likely to face stiff challenges in securing good employment opportunities due to their lack of readiness with the essential ICT skills required by today’s job market. ICDL further stated that this is due to technology progressing much faster than education, and hence, our region’s education system falls short of providing students with the relevant skills needed in the 21st century workplace.

In a world where even job seeking is increasingly changing, a job seeker must possess the skills to leverage ICT in the job search. A job seeker must be able to use the available online search tools, upload a CV on the various job portals, and utilize the popular social media platforms. According to a digital literacy survey provided in 2013 Prince’s Trust Report, one in 10 unemployed young individuals cannot even send their CV online, while more than one in six believe they would be in work today if they had better computer skills. With this alarming problem facing the world’s job seekers, let alone our own, the education system must prepare teachers to deliver the needed skills to students and must incorporate practical ICT training in the curricula before students graduate.
Major changes in ICT are happening and happening too fast, evidenced by the introduction of technologies relevant to cloud computing, cyber safety, IT security, social media, collaboration, and web meeting. Employers in the public and private sectors are pushing to leverage these technologies in order to become more cost-efficient and customer service oriented. These rapid changes have also brought about drastic shifts in the GCC’s job landscape. According to the European Commission Digital Agenda, 90 per cent of jobs will need at least a reasonable level of ICT skills by 2015.
Jamil Ezzo, Director General of ICDL GCC Foundation, emphasised on the need of equipping the youth with the relevant ICT skills to ensure their readiness for today’s workplace. He said: “Being ready for today’s job market requires a bit more than knowledge in using the Internet, email and the common office applications. Employers are demanding ICT skills that are aligned with the latest technologies, they are employing. The education system in the GCC must keep up with these technological developments and fully understand the region’s job market demands to ensure that graduates are ready with the skills to be able to take the first step in their careers.”   
“ICDL GCC Foundation has been working in collaboration with qualification and educational regulators to implement various internationally recognized computer certification programs that help GCC Nationals to be skilled, re-skilled and up skilled in line with the latest international trends in ICT training and certification. As the GCC moves towards knowledge-based economy, it is imperative the GCC workforce are trained with the latest digital skills for functional industry experience to give a boost to the policy of Nationalization” concluded Ezzo.
Driven by the emerging trends and latest technologies, ICDL has revealed recently a new structure for its ICT certification offering prospective employees as well as employers the flexibility, diversity and relevance to acquire the ICT skills they need. The New ICDL is currently being widely reviewed and accepted by schools around the world and particularly in the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain. 
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About ICDL:

The International Computer Driving License (ICDL) is a global computer literacy initiative developed to provide knowledge about Information Technology (IT) and enhance competence of using personal computers and common computer applications for all the citizens of the world. The ICDL GCC Foundation is the sole body to implement and disseminate the program across the GCC States and Iraq with the support of leading educational institutions and accredited bodies. The Foundation mission is to enable proficient use of Information and Communications Technology that empowers individuals, organizations and society, through the development, promotion and delivery of quality certification programmes around the world. 

Pearson Commits to Improving English Language Learning Outcomes in Arab World.

Uptake of English language and national economic prosperity linked
Dubai, UAE, 17 April 2014:An English language expert from Pearson, the world’s largest learning company, says English language instruction in the Arab world should be measurably improving the learning outcomes of English language students in the region.

Dr John de Jong, Pearson’s Senior Vice President for Standards and Quality and Chair in Language Testing at Amsterdam’s VU University, says that Pearson is publically committed to ensuring all its products and services have a positive impact on advancing the educational results of those that use them. Dr de Jong says that this ‘Efficacy Commitment’ is particularly important for Pearson’s English language portfolio, which is used by millions of learners around the world.
“At present, there are approximately two billion people around the globe who are learning English – that means it is incredibly important that English language products and services are effective in making a real difference to the lives of those that use them. The portion of those two billion people who are using Pearson products and services can be assured that their products and services are being reviewed against rigorous, objective efficacy standards. For example, a recent efficacy review of Pearson’s English language learning programmes has led to more sophisticated data and learning analytics being employed in these programmes, driving far greater personalisation – and ultimately leading to enhanced learning outcomes for those using the programmes”.
Dr de Jong was in Dubai recently presenting at the Global Education Forum. He used the opportunity to illustrate the new Global Scale of English (GSE), a Pearson initiative that fits with the company’s commitment to demonstrably improving learning outcomes. The GSE and the associated measurement instrument, Progress, allow for a more detailed, personalised assessment of an English learners’ level of ability, helping educators to more accurately target their learners’ specific learning needs and areas for improvement. The GSE has been designed to give a more precise portrayal of a learner’s level and progress than other systems that are currently available. Dr de Jong says the aim is to encourage the profiling of learners, rather than classifying them by level.
“Maximising the uptake of English language skills is becoming increasingly important, particularly in countries like the UAE, where school leavers and graduates with strong English abilities are more likely to succeed in the world of work.  It is undoubtedly true that in today’s world being able to use English will open up the world to an individual, helping them (amongst other things) perform well in international business communications”.
Dr de Jong also says that a country’s success in the world economy largely depends on whether that country can improve the overall level of English amongst its student population.
“Those Arab countries that have the fastest growing economies and where international trade and commerce are having the greatest positive effects on the lives of citizens are where English language is being taught effectively throughout all levels of the education system. There is a clear relationship between how many people in a country speak English and how fast that country is moving ahead in economic terms. This is evident in the UAE where people have remarkably high levels of English. The country has decided that it wants to be open to the world but understands that in order to do so a significant percentage of the population must be able to speak the language of the world – English. What Pearson wants to do is help ensure the English learning that is taking place is as effective as possible and is having the greatest possible impact on improving the lives of learners. Pearson is realising this goal by placing greater emphasis on definition of learning outcomes in the English education field – making it easier to measure the impact of the learning taking place and powering data-driven decision making”.
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About Pearson:
Pearson is the world’s largest learning company, operating in more than 80 countries around the world, bringing powerful learning solutions to millions of learners every year. Pearson takes learning personally. Our courses and resources are available in print, online and through multi-lingual packages, helping people learn whatever, wherever and however they choose. Our education imprints combine 150 years of experience and include online support for every learner.  Our innovative and dynamic digital learning products and services are changing the learning landscape all around the globe and our qualifications are positively transforming the futures of learners of all ages and backgrounds.  Pearson can boast a comprehensive English Language offering that consists of engaging content and cutting edge testing solutions. To find out more, visit www.pearson.com

Lower Internet rates to boost Smart Government Services in GCC, says ICDL.

 Recent report shows GCC Data Service rates higher than USA and UK
]UAE, March 25, 2014[ICDL GCC Foundation, an organisation that promotes digital skills and cyber safety across the Gulf region and Iraq, has called for lower rates of Internet services to broaden the adoption of the countrys’ Smart Government services. Lower Internet charges will undoubtedly promote the subscription of data packages by the masses, which is highly important for Smart and e-Services to reach out to each and every member of society.

ICDL has lauded the efforts undertaken by regional governments toward building an integrated digital system, which is accompanied with the aim to boost the Smart Government’s e- and m-Services. In fact, the regional governments have registered their highest levels of ICT investment in 2013. For example, billions of dollars were spent to attain computer literacy with Kuwait taking the lead at USD 28 billion followed by Saudi Arabia at USD 4.8 billion. Qatar and the UAE take third and fourth place with a total spending of USD 3 billion and USD 2.7 billion, respectively. These figures highlight the efforts of GCC governments to create a skilled digital community capable of boosting the economy and adapting to the latest ICT tools and techniques.  
On the other hand, ICDL also pointed out that governments should take effective measures to bring down the high data service rates to make them more affordable for all Internet users. According to a recent study conducted by the ICDL GCC Foundation, the rates for data service in the GCC are still high in comparison to other countries and diverse among each other as well. The high service charges inhibit users’ ability to subscribe to data packages which can hamper the success of the GCC’s Smart Governance agendas. Alternatively, affordable data service charges will result in greater participation in Smart and e-Services.
According to the study, the rates of monthly mobile Internet data for 1GB in Saudi Arabia starts from AED 23.5, AED 47.7 in Oman, AED 63.3 in Qatar, and AED 100 in the UAE. The mobile data packages in Kuwait start at AED 104.03/month for 6 GB while it is AED 195.35/month in Bahrain for an unlimited data. A similar monthly package is offered for AED 128.56 for unlimited GB plus 300 minutes calls in the USA, while it is AED 72.02 for 1 GB with a free phone plus 100 minutes calls in the UK.
In the Home Broadband category, the monthly rates starts at AED 149 for unlimited capacity in the UAE, AED 85.86 for 1 GB in Oman, AED 201.72 for 15 GB in Qatar, AED 68.20 for 5 GB in Bahrain and AED 208.10 for 30 GB in Kuwait. Similar monthly package is offered for AED 91.83 for 1.5 GB in the USA and AED 30 in the UK.
Indeed services for mobile data packages and home broadband connections command a higher price in the GCC when compared with the USA and the UK. The GCC government must proactively work on long-term strategic objectives to establish public private partnerships that will eventually help to bring down telecommunication rates in the region. Better coordination and collaboration between government and Internet service providers will also help in bridging this gap.
Jamil Ezzo, Director General of ICDL GCC Foundation, said: “The governments of the GCC have launched Smart and e-Services for the benefits of its people and visitors. However, high telecommunication rates acts as a major obstacle for people to access to these services. There is a greater need for affordable telecom services so that people from all walks of life can have easier access to the Internet. ICDL GCC Foundation proposes cooperation between the public and the private sectors to devise solutions to make data service affordable and accessible in the GCC so that each household has an Internet connection and every smartphone user has access to a mobile data package.” 
ICDL GCC Foundation has been spearheading regional initiatives to place IT security and cyber-safety at the top of government agendas across the region. It has been supporting a wide-scale implementation of awareness programs, including skills validation through training and certification programs centering on IT Security, Cyber Safety and the effective, safe, responsible and mindful use of Social Media. The Foundation continues to collaborate closely with the concerned authorities and experts to further elevate the level of IT security awareness among the public.
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About ICDL:

The International Computer Driving License (ICDL) is a global computer literacy initiative developed to provide knowledge about Information Technology (IT) and enhance competence of using personal computers and common computer applications for all the citizens of the world. The ICDL GCC Foundation is the sole body to implement and disseminate the program across the GCC States and Iraq with the support of leading educational institutions and accredited bodies. The Foundation mission is to enable proficient use of Information and Communications Technology that empowers individuals, organizations and society, through the development, promotion and delivery of quality certification programmes around the world. 

US has been premiere destination for UAE students for higher education since the 60s, says Carian College Advisors’ chief.

Out of every 10,000 students that went to US in academic year 2012-13,      27 came from UAE; Business and Engineering were most popular majors
Dubai, UAE, 30 March 2014: Globally, out of every 10,000 students who went to the US to study in the 2012-13 academic year, 27 came from the UAE (Emiratis and expatriates).

These figures were released by Carian College Advisors, a specialist American education consultancy headquartered in Dubai, and based on the latest Open Doors report published by The Institute of International Education (IIE), an independent not-for-profit organization founded in 1919.
Peter Davos, Managing Director, Carian College Advisors: “The US remains one of the world’s leading destinations for UAE students. The demand for American higher education remained robust this year, not only from the UAE, but also from around the globe. The movement kept us very busy, catering to the individual needs of our clients eager to study in reputable US universities, as we use a highly individualised approach to the preparation and application processes to ensure each of our students find the proper ‘fit’.”
The most popular majors for UAE students studying in US universities are Business and Engineering, according to the same report.
Davos added: “We take pride in our ability to place students in over 4,000 leading degree-granting US institutions of higher learning in 50 states. As independent consultants, we have an edge in acting as non-biased advisors to students and their parents. We understand the stress and complexity of applying to US universities. Applicants have too many options and our job is to act as match-makers between students and universities, based on their academic, geographical, cultural, and professional preferences.”
Davos explained: “We recommend the US over other countries because of its flexible curriculum, interdisciplinary approach to education and emphasis on holistic development of individuals. US universities are well qualified to teach students how to become resourceful and analytical thinkers, as well as provide them with the right tools to integrate in any workplace. Since 2008, the US has become the top destination for international students, as overseas fees for students studying in the UK have tripled and no other country’s institutions can offer significant sums of merit aid to qualified applicants. Almost 100% of our students received merit based aid from at least one institution.”
“The United States is one of the most culturally diverse and inclusive societies in the world. It has been welcoming students from the UAE since the 50s and 60s,” he pointed out.
During 2013, Carian College Advisors held UAE students secure admissions to many leading US universities, such as Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth, Northwestern, Cornell, Yale, Brown, Colorado School of Mines, University of Chicago, Columbia, University of California Los Angeles, and New York University.
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Editor’s Note:

Carian College Advisors is a specialist US education consultant that offers a range of admission counselling services for students in the UAE. Headed by Peter Davos (MSt Oxon, MDesS Harvard), Carian College Advisors is one among the few education consultants in the country that specialises in offering admission-counselling services for universities exclusively in the United States. Carian College Advisors can assist with the entire or specific parts of the application process, such as college list creation, the submission of a personal statement, supplemental essays, letters of recommendation, summary list of extracurricular activities, description of past summer experiences, and the completion of a college interview.

International education experts stress the link between quality teachers and learner success.

Reducing Region’s Teacher Gap is Critical to Improving Student Outcomes
Dubai, UAE, 31 March 2014: The Arab world’s growing teacher shortage threatens to overshadow the region’s educational gains and therefore needs to be addressed quickly and effectively, says the Managing Director of Pearson in the Middle East, Mr Karim Daoud.

According to a recent report from Deloitte, if the teacher gap is to be eradicated, 75,000 new educators will need to be hired by 2015 in the UAE alone. And the outlook is even more worrying for the region as a whole. Projections undertaken in 2013 by UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics indicate that 1.6 million new teaching posts will need to be created by 2015 in the Arab world if universal education is to be achieved – and that figure is likely to increase to 3.3 million by 2030 if drastic measures are not taken.
Teacher shortages are a global problem compounded by a growing number of retirement age teachers and a record number of children entering education. But it is a problem that is felt particularly deeply in the Arab world, where there is a rapidly growing school age population, expected to soon reach 9.5 million. Demand for secondary teachers in this region is greater than primary teachers, due to more subject-specific instruction and longer teaching hours.
Reducing the teacher shortage will be critical to improving the region’s performance in educational rankings such as the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessments (PISA). Moving upwards on globally recognised educational tables is a key priority of some governments in the region, including the UAE. Mr Daoud says that achieving education targets set by governments in the Arab world will be in large part dependent on those countries’ education systems attracting and retaining sufficient teaching talent.
“In 2013 Pearson conducted a far-reaching global study into what helps promote good learning, called the Learning Curve. The report brought together an extensive set of internationally comparable data on education inputs and outputs, covering 50 countries. One of the key findings of this vast study was that there is no substitute for good teachers. Teachers have a profound influence – and having a better one is statistically linked to not only a higher income later on in life, but a range of improved social results. The world’s most successful systems have a number of things in common, including the ability to find ways to attract the best people to the teaching profession and the ability to provide relevant, ongoing training to teachers throughout their careers”.
Amanda Collins, Pearson’s Professional Development Director in the Middle East says that a solution to the teacher shortage does not simply lie in producing more teachers. She says that to make a real difference to students’ educational attainment, teachers must be rigorously trained, well-qualified and undergo regular professional development.
“Good teachers are essential to high quality education. According to the Learning Curve research, finding and retaining great teachers is not only a question of high pay. Rather, teachers need to be treated as the valuable professions that they are, and not as technicians in a huge, educational machine”.
Collins says that there is no silver-bullet solution to the problem, and that a concerted effort from policy makers, teacher training institutions and the education system itself will be required. She pointed to the admirable work the UAE Government’s Ministry of Education has been undertaking to improve the standard of teaching in the country and keep the best teachers in the system.
“The Ministry of Education is actively committed to retaining its talent through its professional development programmes. The Ministry, like other education agencies throughout the region, is looking to ‘professionalise’ the teaching profession by introducing new teaching and Principal standards.

“For example, Pearson is working with the Ministry to deliver an internationally accredited School Leadership Programme that will see more than 700 principals and teachers receive a globally recognised leadership qualification. The programme has been developed to address the needs of the UAE’s education system and designed to meet Pearson’s stringent efficacy standards – assessing the impact of the programme on raising the learning outcomes of students in the UAE. We believe that through quality initiatives such as this we can improve retention rates of teachers and produce highly effective teachers that will have a positive impact on young learners in the Arab world”.