SHARJAH: Society is killing young people’s creativity when it places the emphasis on finding jobs, rather than encouraging them to follow their passions, social entrepreneur Anisa Al-Sharif told Arab News.
“What we need to think of is how to make young people the best versions of themselves, and later they can decide whether they want to get a job or do something else,” she added.
A 2018 World Bank report stated that by 2050, the Middle East and North Africa region will need 300 million vacancies on offer to meet the growing population of young people entering the labor market.
And with digital technology moving at breakneck speed, many of the jobs today’s school children will have in 20 years are yet to be invented – posing society with wide reaching challenges such as what skill sets will be needed.
Al-Sharif said she believes people today do not need to discuss their employability and how they can attract recruiters, but instead how to develop their passions.
But Marwa Abduljawad, CEO of United Enterprises Company Ltd. (UNENCO) said while young people’s passions were important, graduates still needed to focus on the basic skill sets so they can also be attractive to potential employers.
These skills, she said, were ones that could be used in all lines of work and included communication, critical thinking, data analysis, creative thinking, and business ethics.
She admitted that schools had a role to play in helping students discover and follow their passion – helping them to build on them and use them effectively in a professional environment.
“Combining professional skills with passion can provide the market with graduates who are high performing employees,” she added.
Abduljawad said more is needed to be done to help students pursue their passion, while also developing the skills needed for a working environment, rather than just focusing on academia.
According to the World Economic Forum, 65 percent of children entering primary school level education now will likely work in jobs that do not currently exist.
Abduljawad said Saudi Arabia currently has a very limited number of schools that have started programs with non-profit organizations aimed at educating students on entrepreneurship.
“What needs to start in schools is providing extracurricular programs that teach students about entrepreneurship because I believe the field needs to be introduced early in life in order for students to grasp it, experiment it early in life with some ideas, and achieve confidence in oneself,” she added.
Abduljawad said media platforms should offer more information on entrepreneurship to children in the region.
“Unfortunately, media nowadays is brainwashing our kids and children with the concept of consumption and being at the consumer end, and not at the creation end or starting something that matters,” she said.
Abduljawad said she advises the media in the MENA region to encourage entrepreneurial mindset to children, as they are easily influenced by what content the media delivers to them.