Last year, petroleum production and refining accounted for more than 70 per cent of Bahrain’s revenues and 11 per cent of gross domestic product.
In order to effect a transition to a diversified and globally competitive country, Bahrain launched the Economic Vision 2030 in October 2008, which is intended to serve as a blueprint for future development.
The central pillars of the vision are strengthening the private sector, building a knowledge-based economy and developing skills to match the changing needs of the economy. Bahrain is facing a shortage of both appropriate skills and employment opportunities – over the next 10 years, the size of Bahrain’s workforce is forecast to double.
For many years, Bahrain has been tackling unemployment by redistributing oil revenues and offering nationals jobs in the public sector, causing it to balloon. The most sustainable way of redressing the imbalance is by increasing career opportunities for nationals within the private sector – currently, this sector creates an annual average of 2,700 jobs for expatriates compared with 1,100 jobs for Bahrainis.
To successfully achieve this, Bahrain needs to improve its education system, which does not yet provide young people with the skills and knowledge to fully partake in the country’s future.