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NCB urges GCC to align education with labour market

Saudi lender National Commercial Bank (NCB) has said various education initiatives in recent years have made significant headway in addressing the demand of the labour market, but educational standards, in comparison with global standards, still make for relatively unflattering reading for the region, Saudi Gazette has reported. As an example, while Saudi Arabia spends some 6.9% of its GDP on education, a figure ahead of the OECD average, spending on technical and vocational training is some 70% below the global benchmarks, NCB said. Only 9% of Saudi youth today graduate with a vocational qualification as compared to an OECD average of 45%. The proportion in the other GCC countries is even lower with Bahrain the only exception as 24% upper secondary students were in vocation and technical training as of 2009, the lender said in its GCC Economic Review.