49 per cent of respondents in the UAE believe there is a skills gap
A recent study titled The Middle East Skills Report, conducted by Bayt.com and YouGov, has found that 49 per cent of respondents in the UAE believe that there is a skills gap in the market.
At the regional level, 65 per cent of employers believe there is a skills gap in the market, while seven per cent of employers said there isn’t a gap, and 28 per cent said they did not know.
“It is evident that the region experiences several changes and trends that are impacting the labour market and the type of skills that are in high demand. We have dedicated our platform, as the Middle East’s #1 Job Site, to facilitate connections and exchanging information between job seekers and job providers in hopes of matching more talent and securing more job opportunities. In face of the skills gap and the reported changes in demand, we encourage all professionals to utilise Bayt.com, our products, services, and information – such as this research – that can help them further understand the regional skills gap and work towards achieving better career trajectories and successful talent acquisition strategies,” said Suhail Masri, Vice President of Employer Solutions, Bayt.com.
Employers and job seekers seem to be in agreement on the presence of a skills gap in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The majority of job seekers, 59 per cent, also think that there is a skills gap, while 11 per cent think there is not.
From a job seeker’s perspective, according to respondents, the number one reason for not finding jobs fitting their skills set, according to 33 per cent, is a “lack of awareness” of what skills are in high demand. This sentiment varies with age: 38 per cent among those aged 40+, compared to 34 per cent amongst ages 30-39, and 30 per cent amongst those below 30 years old.
Just above a quarter of job seekers, 26 per cent, also claimed that the educational system doesn’t train students on skills which are relevant in today’s marketplace. This sentiment is more prevalent in North Africa at 31 per cent, and amongst recent graduates at 32 per cent.
According to employers, the top three most important skills for mid-career or junior positions are teamwork, with 83 per cent of employers saying it is very important; time management is very important to 80 per cent; and written communication is very important, according to 76 per cent of respondents.
Job seekers also agree; 84 per cent said that teamwork is a very important skill; 83 per cent said time management is very important; and 79 per cent said written communication is very important.
When it comes to senior positions, the survey showed that the top three most important skills according to employers are time management, according to 89 per cent of employers; teamwork, according to 88 per cent; and people management, according to 87 per cent.
Job seekers are in agreement for senior positions as well; 89 per cent said time management is a very important skill, 89 per cent said teamwork is very important, and 87 per cent said people management is very important.
Less than one in three, 32 per cent, employers claimed that it is very difficult to find good candidates for junior or mid-career positions. On the job seeker’s side, only a quarter, 25 per cent, of them have claimed that it was very difficult to find jobs matching their skills level.
According to those surveyed, there is a much bigger gap between what employers and job seekers think when it comes to senior roles. Only about a quarter, 24 per cent, of senior employees have reported that it is very difficult to find a job matching their skills. On the other side, 58 per cent of businesses face challenges in sourcing employees with relevant skills for senior positions.
When looking to hire for mid-career/junior positions, 47 per cent of employers surveyed said that they face the most challenges when searching for candidates skilled at creative thinking; 44 per cent of employers said a global mindset is very difficult to find, and 43 per cent said visual thinking is very difficult to find.
Job seekers seem to tell a similar story by rating themselves lowest on two of these skills. Only 50 per cent of job seekers claimed to be very good at global mindset and 53 per cent claimed to be very good at visual thinking.
However, there is a discrepancy in their evaluation of their creative thinking skills against what employers said: 59 per cent of job seekers evaluate themselves as very good while 47 per cent of employers say it is very difficult to find this skill.
For senior roles, 53 per cent of employers claimed that it is very difficult to find candidates who possess creative thinking; 51 per cent of employers said the same about critical thinking, while 49 per cent said that about global mindset.
Similarly to junior roles, job seekers rate themselves highly on the most critical skills–93 per cent of them said they are very good at team work, 87 per cent said they are very good at time management, 87 per cent said they are very good at written communication, while 86 per cent said they are very good at people management.
However, on time management and team work, the gap between job seekers’ evaluation and businesses’ difficulty in finding the right skills is to the extreme. For time management, 87 per cent of job seekers rate themselves as very good, while 47 per cent of employers said it is very difficult to find good candidates with this skill. Similarly, for team work, 93 per cent of job seekers rate themselves as very good, while 45 per cent of employers said it is very difficult to find good candidates with this skill.
On job seekers’ self-evaluations, the survey revealed that they rated themselves highest on the same skills they said are the most important. This is consistent but may also suggest that candidates felt compelled to say that they perform well on the skills they had identified as being critical.
The majority, 78 per cent, of job seekers surveyed claimed that they are committed to acquiring and developing new skills. However, senior job seekers are more likely than junior ones to read books on new skills, 63 per cent vs 57 per cent; study industry best practises, 51 per cent vs 41 per cent; attend company training, 42 per cent vs 27 per cent; attend conferences, 35 per cent vs 23 per cent; and attend extra classroom courses, 31 per cent vs 18 per cent.
On the employers’ side, eight in 10 companies support their employees through a variety of initiatives. Mainly, 49 per cent of companies organise training sessions and inform employees on industry best practices and 38 per cent implement them internally. There is also some interest in offering extra classroom courses beyond the company trainings (24 per cent), organising industry tests for employees (23 per cent) and paying for employees’ participation in conferences (23 per cent).
“In a fast-paced world in which five million jobs are expected to be displaced by 2020, employees need to constantly look to develop new skills to stay relevant in the market. In light of the recent trends in the market – technological acceleration, IoT, virtual reality, sharing economy – what skills are relevant in tomorrow’s market place and how big is the skills gap today gets its full relevance. This is why everybody should pay attention to it,” said Silviu Matei, Director–Research and Data Analytics, YouGov.
Data for the Middle East Skills Report was collected online between 29 April and 29 May, 2017. A total of 6,229 interviews with job seekers and employers have been completed. Countries that participated include Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and more.