Bahrain 'must spend more on skill development'
Manama, July 9, 2013
Bahrain will need further public spending in skills development and job creation to secure fiscal health and stability, an expert has asserted.
According to Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) Middle East regional director Peter Beynon, investing in training and skills, particularly in the business sector, is key to making sure the growing numbers of young people are equipped to play a part in driving the economy forward.
In an interview with the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication, following the latest quarterly report by the accountancy and finance body, Beynon said the greatest economic challenge facing the kingdom at the moment was the level of public spending, funded by oil revenues.
Produced by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), ICAEW's partner and economic adviser, 'Economic Insight: Middle East' aims at providing ICAEW's 140,000 members with a current snapshot of the region's economic performance.
The report shows that Bahrain has had initial success in developing financial services entering the Global Financial Centres Index in 2008.
A second strategy of promoting tourism, especially through hosting Formula 1 races, has also showed initial success, raising Bahrain's international profile.
Beynon said it is critical to make sure that young Bahrainis are finishing their education equipped with the abilities and aptitudes to work in the private sector, whether that is in the growing financial sector or in business.
He said encouraging young people to enter the finance profession, and making provision for them to develop these skills, will both help ensure longer term economic growth and give them the opportunity of a rewarding career.
"As an international body, we are also aware of the importance of being able to operate in a global marketplace and the need for internationally-focused financial skills," he added.
"Bahraini companies may also wish to expand overseas, increase international trade and attract international investment. Finance professionals with internationally-recognised skills and expertise will clearly make this easier," he added.
Beynon said in addition to natural resources, Bahrain's strengths lie in its human capital, a potential talent pool of bright young people, which is one of the elements that will help it to attract foreign businesses.
"It is well-placed geographically, between the traditional markets of the West and the growing markets and emerging economies in the East, and also has a growing financial services sector," he stated.
"Opportunities will come through the growth of the non-oil sector, which was 6.7 per cent last year, and strong export performance," said Beynon.
"Private sector job creation, which is currently supported by government initiatives, should provide a boost to growth and it is probable that the country can attract foreign direct investment from companies and investors that see it as a means to access the wider GCC market," he added.-TradeArabia News Service