Final nqa report employment decisions fdc project

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Text of Final nqa report employment decisions fdc project

A project funded by the:


Empowering students and employers to make employment decisions

that help to drive a competitive and sustainable workforce in the UAE


The National Qualifications Authority (NQA) was established in 2010 to coordinate with related

entities the establishment and implementation of an internationally-recognised education

and training system for the UAE, which includes a national qualifications framework. This

framework (known as the QFEmirates) is a singular integrated structure covering qualifications

for general education (G12), vocational education, higher education, work-based training,

and professional education and training. The Authority is also leading the development of

quality assurance processes for higher, general and vocational training. These roles aim to

deliver outcomes that assist the UAE to keep pace with scientific and technological progress

and meet the countrys economic and social development needs. For further information

about the NQA, go to

The National Qualifications Authority (NQA) acknowledges the important contribution of

students, employers and industry representatives who participated in this project and the

funding support from the Federal Demographic Council.

No part of this report may be adapted or modified, in any form or medium, whether by

electronic transmission or otherwise, without the prior written consent of the National

Qualifications Authority. While all care has been taken in preparing this report, the Authority

disclaims any liability for any damage from the use of the material contained in this

publication and will not be responsible for any loss, howsoever arising from use, of or reliance

on this material.

Refer all correspondence to:

Research and Development Department

National Qualifications Authority


Phone: +971 (0)2 815 6622

Address: P.O. Box 63003, Abu Dhabi, UAE


National Qualifications Authority (NQA)

March 2013

Front cover photo by iTami


Table of contents

1. Extended executive summary 5

1.1 Project purpose 5

1.2 Project approach 6

1.3 Key findings from literature review 7

1.4 Key findings from employer data 8

1.5 Key findings from secondary school data 9

1.6 Key findings from higher education data 11

1.7 Main implications 12

1.8 Further research 16

1.9 Chapter summary 20

2. Project background 21

2.1 A world-class education and training system for the UAE 21

2.2 Challenges to building a highly skilled workforce 22

2.3 A national qualifications framework for the UAE 23

2.4 Qualifications Framework for the Emirates Handbook 25

2.5 Project purpose 25

2.6 Chapter summary 26

3. Project approach 27

3.1 Phases and activities 27

3.2 Literature review 28

3.3 Analytical framework 28

3.4 Data collection 28

3.5 Sampling 29

3.6 Ethics requirements 31

3.7 Data analysis 31

3.8 Limitations 32

3.9 Employer guide 32

3.10 Chapter summary 32

4. Literature review 35

4.1 Employment indicators and trends 35

4.2 Education pathways and challenges 40

4.3 Qualifications frameworks worldwide 46

4.4 Chapter summary 49


5. Perspectives of employers 51

5.1 Survey participants 51

5.2 Jobs and employability indicators of the QFEmirates 53

5.3 CoreLife Skills 59

5.4 Recruitment of graduates 62

5.5 Hiring intentions of employers 70

5.6 Organisational factors 73

5.7 General comments 75

5.8 Chapter summary 77

6. Perspectives of secondary school students 79

6.1 Survey participants 79

6.2 Study decisions and intentions 80

6.3 Careers advice 92

6.4 Preferred job and industry sector of employment 98

6.5 Chapter summary 105

7. Perspectives of higher education students 107

7.1 Survey participants 107

7.2 Study decisions and intentions 109

7.3 Preparation for study 113

7.4 Careers advice 117

7.5 Preferred job and industry sector of employment 123

7.6 CoreLife Skills 130

7.7 Chapter messages 132

8. Implications and further research 135

8.1 Introduction 135

8.2 Qualifications and jobs 136

8.3 Importance of vocational education and training 139

8.4 Career aspirations of students 143

8.5 CoreLife Skills 148

8.6 Employer recruitment practices and hiring intentions 152

8.7 Occupational information guide for employers 157

8.8 Further research 160

8.9 Chapter summary 164

9. Appendices 165


Chapter 1: Extended executive summary

To build a highly skilled workforce, the UAE

must have a world-class education and

training system that understands the needs

of the labour market.

1. Extended executive summary

This chapter summarises the projects background, approach,

key findings, implications and ideas for further research

presented in different chapters of this report.


The UAE increasingly requires a highly skilled, qualified and adaptable workforce to secure the

international and regional competitiveness of the UAE economy. To build such a workforce

the UAE needs a world-class responsive education and training system and a supporting

national qualifications framework that

improves the quality of qualifications

awarded in the country. The system should

create harmony between itself and the

requirements of the labour market.

The origin of this project arose from the work underway from 2007 to 2011 to develop a unique

national qualifications framework for the UAE based on the knowledge of a strong

international trend towards the development and use of qualifications frameworks. The

culmination of this work came when the Board of the National Qualifications Authority (NQA)

approved the Qualifications Framework for the Emirates Handbook on 20 February 2012. This

Handbook sets out a 10-level national qualifications framework for the UAE, known as the

QFEmirates. The Framework is a singular, coherent and integrated qualifications framework

covering the higher education, vocational education and training (VET) and general

education sectors. It signifies a new order in the way qualifications are developed, approved

and aligned to employment.

The Qualifications Framework for the Emirates Handbook provides detailed information

about the architecture of qualifications in the UAE and also defines the requirements that will

enable UAE qualifications to be compared with and valued alongside foreign qualifications

(NQA, 2012)1. This public national document formally articulates the relationship between a

qualification and an occupational requirement. Due to the highly technical nature of the

Handbook and to give credence to the QFEmirates, the Federal Demographic Council (FDC)

commissioned the National Qualifications Authority to undertake a research project that


1 National Qualifications Authority (2012). Qualifications Framework for the Emirates Handbook. Retrieved November 20, 2012, from, p. 3


Chapter 1: Extended executive summary

When recruiting employees, the QFEmirates

Handbook will help employers match their

workplace needs to the qualifications,

knowledge, skills and experience of an


provide employers with real tangible and

concrete information that can help them to

use the Handbook as a resource to recruit

employees with the qualifications,

knowledge, skills and experience that match

their workplace needs and align with the


provide students with real tangible and concrete information that can help them to better

prepare for entry into the workforce.

Therefore, this research project has endeavoured to identify:

the extent to which employers understand the link between qualifications and

occupational requirements of jobs

the level of awareness among employers and students of the importance of vocational

education and training

employer and student views on generic (CoreLife) skills i.e. skills that underpin work and the

ability of learners to learn throughout their lives (i.e. lifelong learning)

employer recruitment practices as well as their hiring intentions over the next two years

career aspirations of students and the support they need to help them achieve these

aspirations, which includes gaining a good understanding of the UAE labour market in

order to make well-informed study and career decisions

appropriate content for an occupational information guide for employers in the UAE, which

is a QFEmirates reference document that aims to help employers to match qualifications

with occupationa