Older, but not wiser: Lack of trained UAE healthcare workers’ increasing concern for growing elderly population

416A lack of trained workers in the life sciences and healthcare sectors in the UAE is hampering progress, said a report.

Academic and industry experts were gathered by DuBiotech, the biotechnology and research park dedicated to facilitating and fostering growth of the UAE’s life sciences, and Dubai International Academic City (DIAC), to discuss the findings of a recent report highlighting the skills gap.

The Workforce Planning Study by DIAC in conjunction with Deloitte, found an increase in demand for skills associated with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

It studied more than 2,400 students across 17 Mena markets and reported that healthcare spending is expected to double between 2010 and 2015 across the region as a result of the increasing incidence of chronic lifestyle diseases, an increase in government budget allocation and mandatory insurance coverage.

These factors have created an increased in demand for specialised skills, such as medical and laboratory technology, especially at entry and middle levels. Hospital management and clinical data management skills were identified as areas lacking in senior level employees.

The discussion, held in parallel to Arab Health, addressed the need to encourage more students into the life sciences sector to stimulate innovation and address the over reliance on imported medicine.

Marwan Abdulaziz, executive director of Tecom Investments’ Sciences Cluster, which includes DuBiotech and Enpark, said: “Analysis of the region’s health sector shows we can expect rapid growth in the coming years. The experts we assembled discussed the challenges, such as a shortage of qualified staff and skilled labour needed to ensure we achieve the potential.”

“The main objective behind this workshop was to facilitate better collaboration between academia, industry and the government to tackle the skills shortfall and develop a common area of dialogue to address this issue,” he said.

The universities at DIAC, in direct response to industry demand, added an additional 35 degrees to their existing portfolio - particularly STEM subjects such as engineering, along with tourism and hospitality and accounting, he added.

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