Monday, February 28, 2011

Significant Number of GCC Companies Yet to Engage in Executive Education, Reveals Manchester Business School-TECOM Research

Three-Month Joint Research Identifies Latest Trends and Impact of Global Economic Crisis on Region’s Learning and Development

(From left) Dr Lucy Daly, Research Business Manager,
Manchester Business School;
Dr. Ayoub Kazim, MD,
TECOM Investments’ Education Cluster, and
Randa Bessiso,
Director - Middle East, Manchester Business School
Dubai-UAE: 28 February, 2011 – Despite executive education gaining in popularity, over 60 per cent of the organisations in the region are yet to engage in such programmes, representing a potential growth opportunity for executive education providers, according to the outcomes of the Middle East’s first-of-its-kind regional market study.

Titled ‘The GCC Market for Executive Education’, the research was conducted by Manchester Business School in partnership with Dubai International Academic City and Dubai Knowledge Village, members of TECOM Investments’ Education Cluster.

The findings of the research that covered over 500 human resources professionals and senior managers from companies in a range of sectors across the six GCC countries were announced on 28 February 2011, during a seminar held at Dubai Knowledge Village.

The region-wide study evaluates the effect of the global economic crisis on the training budget of the corporate sector. It also analyses the expected ROI (Return on Investment) for executive education, plus ways of assessing its value and the expectations of organisations from an executive education provider.

Dr Lucy Daly, Research Business Manager, Manchester Business School, said: “Development budgets in the region have been hit by the economic downturn, with almost 70% of respondents stating that budgets had declined over the last three years. However, improvement is expected during the next three years, with around 50% of respondents expecting spending to increase and only 18% anticipating a decrease in budget.”

The research has reiterated a strong belief that the global economic downturn has had a negative impact on learning and development spending within the region. Over half of the respondents noted that spending has been ‘significantly’ affected, while other organisations agreed that spending has been ‘somewhat’ affected.

However, the future looks more positive with a substantial proportion of respondents expecting to see a moderate increase in spending on executive education over the next three years. Many organisations, however, anticipate executive education spending to remain unchanged for the next three years, according to the research.

TECOM Education Cluster was part of the implementation of the study through its Partner Development Management (PDM) Division. PDM supports the exposure, visibility and growth of existing academic partners within the cluster and provides a platform that supports the growth of the human resources management and higher education sectors in Dubai.

Dr Ayoub Kazim, Managing Director, Education Cluster – TECOM Investments, said: “This research is particularly significant in understanding the demand for executive education and provides unique insights into the regional market. The results will enable the prioritisation of communication activities and development of an action plan for addressing market needs.

“Our close collaboration with academic partner Manchester Business School for this research is aimed at driving the development of human resources management segment and contributing towards building a knowledge economy in the UAE and the region.”

Other key findings of the study indicate that the achievement of strategic goals, an increase in productivity, and an increase in effectiveness were the most important measures of ROI for executive education programmes. An increase in innovation (products and processes) and reduction in costs were only rated as having ‘some importance’ as desirable outcomes of executive education programmes by respondents, according to the research.

The study indicates that companies are recruiting skilled employees, often with graduate and postgraduate degrees.  There were a range of perceived skill gaps among the regional workforce but with no one skills area dominating. Only finance and supply chain management were recognised as a ‘gap’ by less than one quarter of the respondents, with other skills areas widely considered to be gaps.

In addition, the research also highlights that the executive education priorities for the next 12 months are somewhat more defined with ‘leadership’, ‘business planning’ and ‘strategy’ identified as core training areas by more than one third of the respondents. Longer term priorities include ‘organisational development’, ‘leadership’ and ‘strategy’. 

Randa Bessiso, Director Middle East at Manchester Business School, added: “This unique joint research highlights the management skills deficit that exists across the region and is vital to address with the region emerging as a significant global economic and business force. Executive – or management - education is an important factor in filling the regional skills gaps, even as training activity gains momentum post economic crisis.

“Complementing Dubai’s commitment and capability to provide this support to businesses, MBS has already appointed a regional manager for management learning. We also aim to launch a series of executive education programmes targeting the senior management levels.”

Manchester Business School set up the Middle East International Executive Centre at Dubai Knowledge Village, TECOM Education Cluster, in 2006 and currently supports more than 1000 post-experience MBA students in the region. It is the largest centre in the MBS international network. Complemented by the additional benefits that Dubai offers as a regional business base, the TECOM Education Cluster that hosts the school serves as an outstanding hub for human development.