UAE leads in de­vel­op­ing and re­tain­ing work­force tal­ent

Re­port shows both devel­op­ment and re­ten­tion are set­ting the pace, but jobs of the fu­ture will de­pend on tech­nol­ogy

The National - News - Business - - Front page - LeAnne Graves lgraves@then­ational.ae

The UAE is the top coun­try in the re­gion in terms of de­vel­op­ing and re­tain­ing tal­ent – but grab­bing the “Arab dig­i­tal gen­er­a­tion” will re­quire a greater shift to­wards tech­nol­ogy and away from oil, a new study said.

Insead Busi­ness School, with Google and the Cen­tre for Eco­nomic Growth, re­leased a re­port yes­ter­day that places the UAE in the top 20 of 118 coun­tries and first in Mena for en­abling, de­vel­op­ing and re­tain­ing tal­ent. The UAE also ranks above coun­tries in cen­tral and south­ern Asia, Latin and Cen­tral Amer­ica, the Caribbean and sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa. The Mid­dle East and North Africa Tal­ent Com­pet­i­tive­ness In­dex also showed that even the tal­ent leader had one of the high­est rates of “fear of fail­ure” and one of the low­est for en­tre­pre­neur­ial in­ten­tion. It trails the UK, the US and Sin­ga­pore con­sid­er­ably in terms of de­vel­op­ing knowl­edge skills.

“The start-ups are mainly driven by for­eign tal­ent. There are some multi-stake­holder ef­forts to pro­mote such be­havioural skills, but the re­gion still lags be­hind,” the re­port said.

Bruno Lan­vin, the ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of global in­dexes at Insead, said that Mena has a younger de­mo­graphic than the rest of the world, which is a bless­ing and a chal­lenge when it comes to job cre­ation.

“Tech­nol­ogy is a crit­i­cal di­men­sion of this chal­lenge as the jobs of the fu­ture need to be thought of in ar­eas such as ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, vir­tual and aug­mented re­al­ity and life­long con­tin­u­ous upskilling,” he said.

Arab mil­len­ni­als, who make up 60 per cent of the re­gion’s pop­u­la­tion, are more con­nected than ever be­fore. How­ever, the Arab dig­i­tal econ­omy is only 4 per cent of GDP, half of that of the United States.

High youth un­em­ploy­ment is dou­ble the world av­er­age, at 30 per cent, as Mena strug­gles to cre­ate sus­tain­able jobs. Gov­ern­ments in the re­gion have in­vested con­sid­er­ably in ed­u­ca­tion to im­prove com­pet­i­tive­ness – the equiv­a­lent of 18 per cent of to­tal gov­ern­ment spend­ing – higher than the 14 per cent global av­er­age. In Mena, the prob­lems of em­ploy­ment were struc­tural rather than tem­po­rary with non-GCC coun­tries ex­pected to have an un­em­ploy­ment rate above 15 per cent “in the fore­see­able fu­ture”.

Ac­cord­ing to Mag­nitt, an on­line plat­form that helps en­trepreneurs con­nect, in­vest­ing in ed­u­ca­tion and re­search and devel­op­ment is the key to fos­ter­ing in­no­va­tion – just as with Sil­i­con Val­ley.

Philip Ba­hoshy, Mag­nitt’s founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive, said: “In­vest­ment re­gion­ally in ed­u­ca­tion, re­search and devel­op­ment may not only lead to lo­calised in­no­va­tion but it will also breed en­gi­neers and the know-how of tal­ent who are able to cre­ate start-ups and code prod­ucts them­selves rather than re­ly­ing on the out­source model for tech­nol­ogy devel­op­ment.”

He said that in the short to medium-term, a key driver could be to en­cour­age in­tern­ships with start-ups. Gov­ern­ments could po­ten­tially spon­sor in­tern­ships with cred­i­ble star­tups to pro­vide a greater un­der­stand­ing of the en­tre­pre­neur­ial jour­ney. Mag­nitt’s re­search shows founders of the top 100 funded start-ups had nine years worth of ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore start­ing their com­pa­nies. Not ev­ery­one can be a founder of a start-up like Face­book at the age of 20 – Mark Zucker­berg is an ex­cep­tion rather than the rule.

Tech­nol­ogy is a crit­i­cal di­men­sion of this chal­lenge Bruno Lan­vin Ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, global in­dexes, Insead

Sil­via Raz­gova / The Na­tional

A re­port by Insead, with Google and the Cen­tre for Eco­nomic Growth, places the UAE in the top 20 of 118 coun­tries and first in Mena for en­abling tal­ent.

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