Education sector in Qatar: Corporate Immigration and Destination Services perspective

Qatar has averaged a stunning growth rate of 10% since 2009. Estimates based on this rate predict Qatar to emerge as the region’s second largest economy. The reform-minded Qatari government is looking to the future with the Qatar National Vision 2030, an ambitious plan to create an advanced, sustainable and diversified economy, transforming the peninsula into an international hub for tourism, finance and education. 
Along with the economy, Qatar is experiencing rapid population growth at a rate of over 7%, as it becomes a magnet for global talent to fuel its massive infrastructure projects gearing up to FIFA World Cup 2022 set to be hosted in Qatar.

This endeavor puts a huge pressure and poses huge opportunities for the country’s growing education sector, which is expected to cater to growing needs over the coming decade.

This article aims at exploring the expected growth in education sector in Qatar, the opportunities and threats it presents from a Corporate Immigration and Destination Services point of view.

The Supreme Education Council in Qatar is responsible for driving the development of the country’s education center. SEC has issued the Education and Training Sector Strategy 2011-2016, which in its summary states, “Qatar will need to continue to make substantial investments in education and training, which will produce well rounded and engaged citizens who are prepared to support the nation’s industry, science and medicine...”

When translated to numbers, we can see that Qatar’s public spending reached $6.04bn in the education sector in 2012, which is about 4.1% of its GPD, the “highest in the region” according to the organiser of Gulf Educational Supplies and Solutions (GESS), the region’s leading educational exhibition. However, the inflow of private investments in the country is yet to gather pace as investors are adopting a risk-averse approach. No venture capital investments were recorded in 2012 in the industry According to a report entitled GCC Education Industry 2014 released by Alpen Capital. According to the report, Qatar’s private school market was worth $433 million, based on annual tuition fees, and half of all enrollment rates in Qatar in 2012 were in private schools – one of the highest rates in the region.

In order to encourage and facilitate private investment in the education sector, Qatar Development Bank (QDB) and the Supreme Education Council (SEC) are planning to offer a 15-year education loan to private investors seeking to set up educational institutes in the pre-primary, primary and secondary segments. The loan, made available at a subsidised interest rate of 3-4% per year, will allow investors to finance up to 70% of their overall project cost. The SEC will conduct the feasibility study for the education projects.

With the expected growth and government facilities, The future looks bright for Qatar’s education sector. While setting up the business is relatively easy, how does the operation look when seen from a Corporate Immigration and Destination Services perspective?

Alpen’s report states that overall, Qatar is predicted to have the highest increase regionally in terms of the total number of student enrollments by 2020.

To give a context to the required growth, while Qatar is estimated to have 130 international schools to serve its population of 2.2 million (and growing), Dubai alone has 233 international schools for its population of 2.3 million. Nearly one third of private schools in Qatar run on UK-supplied curricula, a trend that is likely to continue Says Alpen’s Report.

This growth and the need for native English speaking teachers present a number of challenges starting with corporate immigration planning and execution through to provision of adequate Destination Services.

It comes without saying that the current growth phase of Qatar’s economic sectors put huge pressure on the country’s government services, real estate, and healthcare sectors. Although major plans are undergoing to respond to the pressure, it remains imperative that HR departments in schools plan their Corporate Immigration and Destination Services carefully to ensure timely execution of the overall operational plan. 

Below are some of the major areas that require early attention and due diligence to avoid any costly delays

1- Block Visa Application: to work in Qatar, individuals need work permits that can only be obtained by entities registered with the employment authorities to become worker’s sponsors during their employment in Qatar. Sponsorship and immigration are interlinked, so once a Qatari entity has been issued with an immigration card it may register with the Labour Department and submit block visa applications. A block visa application should state the gender, nationality and job title of the workers a Qatari entity wants to employ. Once the block visa allocation has been approved by the Labour Department, passport copies and appropriate education certificates should be submitted to the Immigration Department in order for each worker to be issued with their work permit before they can proceed for residency once that worker has been relocated to Qatar.

When dealing in huge numbers, this process can be time and effort consuming and is one that should be planned and handled in advance taking into consideration current and future requirements of the business.

2- Work Permits for local recruits: a lot of schools in Qatar look into the domestic market for hiring, specially for pre-school and primary school teachers. These opportunities are popular among spouses residing in Qatar. Whereas this option saves the time and process of mobilizing staff from abroad, it is worth noting that Supreme Council of Education should approve all local hiring prior to obtaining a work permit from the Labour Department. This procedure can be time consuming if not done properly and an expert advises on the required supporting documents can save a lot of time and effort.

3- Housing and accommodation: Qatar’s real estate sector has been racing the clock for the past 10 years trying to cater to ever-growing population. This pressure on residential units can lead to unpredicted costs and delays in mobilization. 

4- Driving License: A Qatari driving license is required for expats with resident permits, and can often be quickly transferred from a driving license from a list of approved countries for a small fee. For the most updated list, check with Traffic Department. However, if the employees’ nationality is not included in the list, then the employee requires to be part of a driving school for up to 6 weeks. Setting a test date could also take long but could be put on a fast track with the right planning.

These are only few points and obstacles that might face the growing education sector in Qatar. All of these points can be easily managed and any inconvenience avoided through careful planning and the right selection of a knowledgeable Destination Services Provider. Contact us today to know more about our services and how we can help you see through the blind spots for an ultimate relocation experience.
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