This three-year QNRF Project commenced on 11 February 2018. The research team is led by Dr Rupert Maclean, QAPCO Professional Chair in Vocational Studies and UNESCO Chair in TVET and Sustainable Development. Distinguished partner organizations in the team include Qatar University, Qatar Green Building Council, the University of Oxford, RMIT University (Melbourne), and the Education University of Hong Kong.
This study will contribute to the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030 and the Second National Development Strategy 2018-2022 by developing validated strategies through which the post-secondary education sectors in Qatar can optimize the role of human capital in sustainable development, thus serving the needs of end-users in the energy, built environment, financial services and education sectors.
Central to sustainability, human capital comprises the knowledge, skills and competencies that can be used to advance personal, societal and economic wellbeing. However, research to date on human capital and development has proven unhelpful in at least two ways. First, it has seen human capital primarily in microeconomic terms – the value of increased human capital to an individual’s wellbeing. Limited research has adopted a macroeconomic view of the role of human capital in national development – the focus and significance of this research in Qatar.
Second, research has focused on returns-on-investment in education, using quantity (the number of years in formal education) as the key variable. Critiques of this approach emphasize the quality of education through the development of higher-level cognitive skills (e.g. critical thinking and problem-solving) and social skills (e.g. communication, leadership, team work). These are essential 21st Century skills for life and employability in rapidly changing economies (WEF 2016a).
The study is also innovative in a third way – due to its extension of 21st Century skills to include skills for sustainability or “green skills”. This is done because of the role of climate change and other environmental issues as drivers in the “greening” of development. Thus, the research will contribute to new thinking in human capital research.