A study from bayt.com has found 49 per cent of job seekers in the UAE believe that there is a skills gap in the market. In The Middle East Skills Report the company found 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.
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 is a “lack of awareness” (33 per cent) 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 (31 per cent) and amongst recent graduates (32 per cent).
According to employers, the top three most important skills for mid-career or junior positions are “teamwork” (83 per cent of employers said it is very important), “time management” (80 per cent said it is very important) and “written communication” (76 per cent said it is very important). 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” (89 per cent of employers said it is very important), “teamwork” (88 per cent said it is very important), and “people management” (87 per cent said it is very important).
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.
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 practices (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 ten companies support their employees through a variety of initiatives. Mainly, companies organise training sessions (49 per cent) and inform employees on industry best practices and implement them internally (38 per cent). There is also some interest in offering extra classroom courses beyond the company trainings (24 per cent), organizing 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,” 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.”