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Sun 6 Aug 2006 04:00 AM

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Economy at risk as skills gap widens

Survey predicts threat to Middle East economy if region does not fill technology talent shortage

|~||~||~|The Middle East’s economic growth and global competitiveness could be under serious threat if a predicted severe IT skills shortage is not urgently addressed, according to a series of joint surveys by market researchers IDC and communications giant Cisco Systems.
The set of three reports covering nine countries in the Middle East, Pakistan and South Africa showed that unless networking skills shortages are immediately reviewed, there will be a shortage of almost 265,000 skilled people required to help drive economic growth in these emerging markets in only three years causing severe headaches for CEOs across the region.
Commissioned by Cisco to assess networking skills in the three regions, the study found that by 2009, demand for the skilled people necessary to develop, build and manage IT systems required to support continued economic growth would outstrip supply by 35% in the Middle East and Pakistan. This would equate to a shortfall of 114,800 skilled professionals in those areas. In more depth the results revealed that Pakistan, Jordan and Kuwait are likely to experience gaps of more than 40% by 2009 with demand for networking skills in the UAE exceeding supply by 27% in three years – a shortage of more than 19,000 people required to help drive economic growth.
In contrast, findings from the same study carried out across Western and Eastern Europe in 2005 revealed an average networking skills gap of 11.8% by 2008.
Yvon Le Roux, vice president of public sector, European and emerging markets at Cisco Systems, said: “These findings represent a call to action for governments, the private sector, educators and individuals to do more to address the need to make more educational programs and training opportunities available.
“If plans are not put into place now, technology adoption, business competitiveness and market growth will be at great risk.”
Samer Alkharrat, general manager at Cisco Systems in the Gulf, added that the networking skills shortage could become “critical” in hindering technology adoption and economic expansion in high growth markets unless action was “taken now”.||**||

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