UAE's retail sector growth challenged by gap in skillset

New report says lean operations and mall management skills facing shortage in the UAE

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

A new study commissioned by Dubai International Academic City reveals that the anticipated increase in manpower demand within the retail industry faces some key challenges, primarily a shortage of critical skillsets.

In the study, conducted by Deloitte, 24 per cent of companies surveyed said lean operations and mall management skills are the skills most lacking amongst senior level employees.

Customer psychology and buying behaviour, as well as category management skills, were the most crucial skill gaps evident amongst mid-level professionals for 44 per cent of companies. For entry level employees, customer service skills are underrepresented, according to the study.

The study, which covered over 2,400 students across 17 markets in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, alongside a cross-section of companies, also revealed that the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of retail sector employees in the UAE is 2.61 percent, a rate expected to exponentially increase in light of Dubai’s successful bid to host Expo 2020.

The projected growth of manpower demand within the UAE’s retail sector results from exponential growth across the industry as a whole.

The UAE is the most mature retail market in the GCC, with a retail trade size of $38.1 billion (2010); significantly larger than Saudi Arabia at $23.7 billion, Qatar at $8.9 billion, and Oman at $5 billion.

The UAE’s retail sector is estimated to increase by 32.9 percent by 2015 from AED114 billion in 2012 to AED151 billion, according to Dubai FDI’s latest report.

Dr Ayoub Kazim, Managing Director of Dubai International Academic City and Dubai Knowledge Village said: “Many of our universities offer various degrees in fields related to the retail sector, including Heriot-Watt University, offering a BA in Fashion Marketing and Retailing; Institute of Management Technology, offering a BSBA in Retail Management; and Amity University, who offer an MBA in Retail Management. Supporting the sector-specific education is a step towards addressing the skillset shortage issue.”

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