The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) is hosting its 15th annual conference under the title "Education and the Requirements of the GCC Labour Market".

Decision makers and experts from the oil-rich Gulf countries meet in Abu Dhabi to discuss conforming education output to labour market requirements.

A survey found that during the global economic crisis, 10 per cent of GCC nationals had lost their jobs as the regional economies grappled with the effects of the downturn.

Now, the experts explore ways to rectify the severe imbalance through education and vocational training for their citizens, who should gradually replace the foreign labour force.

Nearly 40 per cent of the total population of the region is comprised of foreigners - in some countries, like the UAE and Qatar, that figure rises to more than 80 per cent.

ECSSR estimates that currently 435,000 Gulf graduates are unemployed, warning that the numbers may go up to two million in the next decade.

On Tuesday's Inside Story we look at the future of the region's labour market and its impact on the social and economic stability of the Gulf region.

Is substituting foreign workers with locals feasible? Is it just a matter of getting the qualifications or are there other cultural factors at play? Can they even compete with the foreigners?

Inside Story presenter Imran Garda is joined by Andries De Grip, the head of research at the Research Centre for Education and Labour Markets in the Netherlands, Mary Tawar, a senior specialist on employablity and skills at the International Labour Organisation, and Hatem Tabo, the general manager of Trust Manpower Supply.

This episode of Inside Story aired on Tuesday, February 2, 2010.

Source: Al Jazeera