Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 26 January 2020

Health and education top priorities for UAE economy

Human capital is key for sustained economic growth, says the World Bank

Human capital is key for a sustained economic growth in the UAE. Sarah Dea / The National
Human capital is key for a sustained economic growth in the UAE. Sarah Dea / The National

Health and education should be the top priorities for the UAE to fulfil its potential, said Sameh El-Saharty, programme leader of GCC countries at the World Bank, launching the World Bank Human Capital Index on Thursday.

Mr El-Saharty’s comments were made at the launch of the the Human Capital Index on Thursday. The Human Capital Index assesses the effects of human capital investments on future productivity.

To prepare Emirati youth for the future, the World Bank's findings recommend investment in early-stage development of children, improving basic proficiency and learning outcomes, equipping youth with skills needed for the 21st century, enabling and instiling a “long-life learning” culture, and tackling chronic diseases by focusing on risk factors.

According to the World Bank’s findings, 99 per cent of children born in the UAE today will survive to school age. In terms of adult survival, 93 per cent of children aged 15 years are expected to survive to the age of 60. This means that 7 per cent will die prematurely and improving the adult survival rate by 10 per cent would lead to a 6 per cent increase in productivity.

Developing human capital is becoming increasingly important as technology such as artificial intelligence advances, given that automation is putting almost two thirds of all jobs in developing countries at risk, said Mr El-Saharty in his presentation.

In addition to health and education, building and utilising human capital requires investing in skills development to match labor market needs, he added.

The UAE currently ranks fifth in the Global Talent Competitiveness index on ease of finding skilled labour and 12th in relevance of education system to the economy.

In the GCC, only 29 per cent of employers thought that the education system in their country prepared students with the right technical skills for the job, he highlighted quoting an EY report.

Updated: December 12, 2019 06:55 PM

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