Fierce competition, inadequate professional skills and lack of real-world work experience are adding up to a grim outlook for job-hunting young people, experts say.
“Jobseekers are complaining that there aren’t enough jobs, which there aren’t, and over 60 per cent of employers say they can’t find the skills that they’re searching for from this huge pool, which is an amazing thing,” said Rabea Ataya, founder and chief executive of Bayt.com, a jobs site that launched in Dubai in 2000 and serves the Middle East and North Africa region.
Mr Ataya said the average number of applicants for each job posted online in the Mena region was about 500, significantly higher than online job markets in European countries and India.
“Because we have a liberal work permit policy, one of the most liberal in the world, that adds to the complexity of the problem,” he said, noting that the UAE was one of the “most attractive places on earth for jobseekers”.
“So it’s not that you only have your local jobseekers competing for the jobs, you have people from as far as China or the United States also competing in that same market.”
According to a recent PwC survey of 248 chief human resources (HR) officers across the Middle East, employers face a lack of talented locals, a lack of leaders in local populations, and the need to connect with millennials – those born within the last 20 years – to drive innovation and growth.
“Throughout the region, there is undoubtedly a gap between the talent demands of the workforce and the talent availability among locals,” said Randa Bahsoun, a PwC partner who oversees talent development and HR schemes to improve the skills of the workforce.
“This regional skills gap is partly due to the challenges in aligning local educational and training systems to the increasingly complex demands of organisations.”
Ali Matar, head of talent solutions at LinkedIn Mena, agreed.
“As the speed of technological change continues to increase, we’re seeing a greater mismatch between education and the world of work,” he said.
“It’s not simply a case of graduates being educated for the jobs of today, but being educated for the jobs of tomorrow. This is obviously hard for educational institutions to account for, but we see an opportunity in the future for a different way to developing educational programmes.”
An analysis of 39 journal articles on skills gaps by researchers at Qatar University, Brunel Business School and Brunel University London identified eight main attributes graduates should develop to improve their employability.
They are: communication and interpersonal skills, teamwork, motivation and leadership, critical thinking, creative thinking and problem-solving, flexibility and adaptability, pre-graduate work experience; time management and self-management, and technological skills.
“Studies have found that well-developed skills greatly impact employability, as the recruiting teams weigh these skills highly while employing new graduates,” wrote Mohamad Osmani.
He is the author of Identifying the trends and impact of graduate attributes on employability: a literature review, which was published in the journal Tertiary Education and Management.
“Therefore, universities should embed graduate attributes as part of their curriculum, as well as through additional employability programmes and/or workshops that can be delivered in parallel,” Mr Osmani wrote.
“In this respect, fostering closer links between universities and industry will help to identify current trends and needs of employers in terms of skills and graduate attributes that are in most demand.”
Source: The National