Think ‘strategic philanthropy’ to make longer lasting impact on future employment

As important as upskilling today's workforce is the need to open up access to quality education for the next generation. The right sort of funding will help.

Author: H.E. Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair

Publication: Gulf News

The world feels fraught with challenges – from the complexities of climate change and food security to geopolitical discord and economic trials.

It can feel quite overwhelming.

However, our region is emerging as a beacon of hope. We are not just participants but enablers, actively helping many to navigate through these challenges and crafting solutions. This is not about simply being more optimistic; it is about understanding our different roles in the practical approach of making a positive impact.

In the UAE, our nation’s unwavering commitment to shaping a prosperous future has nurtured bold strategies to address key challenges like climate change while preserving our economic development. As numerous national economies confront daunting challenges, the UAE stands poised to attain an impressive growth rate of 3.9 per cent this year, further accelerating to 4.3 per cent in 2024 according to the Central Bank of the UAE.

This is the kind of growth that boosts job creation opportunities and reminds us that our individual responsibility has an impressive collective impact.

We are now entering an era driven by collaborative endeavors between public, private, and academic sectors. Our nation stands at the forefront of this change, crafting future-proof solutions that instigate socio-economic transformations.


Challenge of unemployment

The urgency of education, training, and reskilling is becoming part of today’s tradition. By 2025, half the global workforce will require new skills, underscoring the need for adaptability, creativity, and complex problem-solving.

Focusing on human capital is not just fashionable, it is a rational approach to a multi-dimensional problem. Especially in our region, where we have the largest unemployment rate and youth bulge globally.

Our challenge presents an opportunity if we collaborate to ensure that individuals possess the necessary skills for today’s and tomorrow’s job market. The rapid progression of technology – and the impact of climate change calls – for ongoing efforts to bridge the skills gap, which will undoubtedly cause concern for employers as their operations rely on a capable workforce.

This situation affects everyone, but it’s especially tough for vulnerable groups like refugees. UNHCR expects that in 2023, around 117.2 million people will be forcibly displaced or stateless. In the MENA region, this represents about 14 per cent – or 16 million people.

The best ladder of opportunity to a better life is through paid employment, which improves the lives of individuals and contributes to the labor supply of countries globally and across our region. Unfortunately, the barriers to employment can be substantial.

Prioritizing our focus on helping refugees who are struggling through no fault of their own is not only the right thing to do but also the smart choice from a macroeconomic perspective.


Funding a wider cause – long-term

Charity can and does play an essential role in supporting refugees in their daily lives, particularly those in extreme crisis with emergency response. However, strategic philanthropy takes a different approach.

It is an investment in people, communities, and the national economy. Strategic philanthropy is about identifying the root causes of societal issues and then leveraging resources to drive meaningful, long-term impact.

It is about using evidence-based practices to measure impact and inform decision-making. It is about collaborating with other stakeholders, including governments and businesses, to achieve common goals.

It leverages business methods for localization by genuinely valuing the specific needs faced by the people, the barriers they face, and the dynamics of the labor market in that area.

In so doing, it demands design of support systems to create pathways using the right resources at the right time to make a greater and more meaningful impact. In other words, addressing the actual needs on the ground through tailored opportunities can lead to faster transformation of lives.

With nearly half of the refugee children being out of school, the disruption to their education can mean enduring consequences that limit their future careers and access to well-paid employment in their adult life.

This dangerously affects their life chances. Therefore, as well as ensuring the targeted approach to those working-age refugees to be equipped with the skills and opportunities to actively participate in the labor market, it is significant that pathways to educational opportunity are prioritized.

Education offers the best chance for refugee youth to improve their lives and well-being across their communities.


A smooth access to education

The unfortunate reality is that continued education is an inaccessible luxury for most of them. As a result, we risk losing a generation of young people to futures crippled by poor access to learning opportunities.

It is critical to remember the transformative power of education to significantly improve the life chances of young people in positioning them to succeed in their careers through access to well-paid employment. This ripple effect then extends to their contribution to their communities and, of course, the gains to the national economy.

Through the work of the Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund and Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation, we are focused on optimizing the support we provide through strategic philanthropy to bring about the change that needs to happen to enable opportunity for so many people.

A key focus of our approach is partnerships and collaboration for a better future, which roots in the foundation values of the UAE.


Build on partnerships

We understand that to make the most significant impact, we need to leverage partnerships to focus on the targeted solutions that can add value to how we overcome any obstacle. By working collaboratively with Unicef, the Global Muslim Philanthropy Fund, WarChild Holland, and others, we can bring a more holistic viewpoint and maximize the resources on the ground to be scaled up to help a more significant proportion of people – especially those who need it most.

This region has a deep-rooted and rich tradition of charitable giving aligned with our values and beliefs. Still, through strategic philanthropy, we focus on investing in people through opportunity.

Some people may feel pessimistic about the challenges that exist in the world today; however, they should feel optimistic about taking action to address the solutions needed to overcome them. With a more significant shift towards strategic philanthropy, we can collaborate further to invest at scale in people, communities, and ultimately the investment made in transforming so many lives that go on to make economies prosperous.

Gulf News