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65% of regional employers believe there is a skills gap, according to a and YouGov survey
Source: and YouGov , Author: Posted by BI-ME staff
Posted: Thu July 13, 2017 11:55 am

UAE. About 49% of a survey respondents across the UAE believe that there is a skills gap in the market and 26 per cent job seekers in Middle East claimed that the educational system doesn't train students on skills which are relevant in today's marketplace.

In a latest study titled - The Middle East Skills Report, conducted by and YouGov, have also found that 65 per cent of employers at the regional level believe there is a skills gap in the market, while 7 per cent of employers said there isn't a gap, and 28 per cent said they did not know

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%) also think that there is a skills gap, while 11% think there is not.

Job Seeker Challenges

From a job seeker’s perspective, according to respondents, the number one reason for not finding jobs fitting their skills set is a “lack of awareness” (33%) of what skills are in high demand. This sentiment varies with age: 38% among those aged 40+, compared to 34% amongst ages 30-39, and 30% amongst those below 30 years old.

Just above a quarter of job seekers (26%) 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 (31%) and amongst recent graduates (32%).

Today’s Most Demanded Skills
According to employers, the top three most important skills for mid-career or junior positions are “teamwork” (83% of employers said it is very important), “time management” (80% said it is very important) and “written communication” (76% said it is very important).

Job seekers also agree; 84% said that “teamwork” is a very important skill, 83% said “time management” is very important, and 79% 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” (89% of employers said it is very important), “teamwork” (88% said it is very important), and “people management” (87% said it is very important).

Job seekers are in agreement for senior positions as well. 89% said “time management” is a very important skill, 89% said “teamwork” is very important, and 87% said “people management” is very important. 

Today’s Most Scarce Skills
Less than one in three (32%) 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%) 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%) of senior employees have reported that it is “very difficult” to find a job matching their skills. On the other side, the majority of businesses (58%) face challenges in sourcing employees with relevant skills for senior positions.

When looking to hire for mid-career / junior positions, 47% of employers surveyed said that they face the most challenges when searching for candidates skilled at “creative thinking.” 44% of employers said “global mindset” is very difficult to find and 43% 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% of job seekers claimed to be “very good” at global mindset and 53% 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% of job seekers evaluate themselves as “very good” while 47% of employers say it is “very difficult” to find this skill.

For senior roles, 53% of employers claimed that it is “very difficult” to find candidates who possess creative thinking. 51% of employers said the same about critical thinking, while 49% said that about global mindset.

Similarly to junior roles, job seekers rate themselves highly on the most critical skills. 93% of them said they are “very good” at team work, 87% said they are “very good” at time management, 87% said they are “very good” at written communication, and 86% 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% of job seekers rate themselves as “very good”, while 47% of employers said it is “very difficult” to find good candidates with this skill. Similarly, for team work, 93% of job seekers rate themselves as “very good”, while 45% 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.

Suhail Masri, Vice President of Employer Solutions,, said: “It is evident that the region experiences several changes and trends that are impacting the labor 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 utilize, 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.”    

Preparing for Future Jobs
The majority (78%) 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% vs 57%), study industry best practices (51% vs 41%), attend company training (42% vs 27%), attend conferences (35% vs 23%) and attend extra classroom courses (31% vs 18%).

On the employers’ side, eight in ten companies support their employees through a variety of initiatives. Mainly, companies organize training sessions (49%) and inform employees on industry best practices and implement them internally (38%). There is also some interest in offering extra classroom courses beyond the company trainings (24%), organizing industry tests for employees (23%) and paying for employees’ participation in conferences (23%).

“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,” said Silviu Matei, Director – Research and Data Analytics, YouGov.

 “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.”

Data for the Middle East Skills Report was collected online between the 29th of April and the 29th of 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.

Photo: file image



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