In boardrooms, seminars and conferences across the Middle East, one hot topic comes up time and again of late: the skills gap.
Within the technology function in particular, organisations find that they do not have the personnel to reinvent themselves digitally and keep pace with market expectations. According to one company, the problem is not a lack of graduates.
“Holders of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees are all increasing in number,” said Khalid Al Sagr, CEO of Expertise Windows Training (EWTraining), a Saudi-Emirati based professional-development firm. “What we find is practical skills are in short supply and this is the challenge for recruiting organisations.”
As GCC nations steam forward with national development plans, practical skills are a vital arrow in their quiver. Saudi Vision 2030 and UAE Vision 2021 both identify skills and knowledge development as key enablers of sustainable economic growth. But subtler skills are often the most sought-after because of the expat commonality found across the region.
“Multicultural workplaces are the norm here,” said Al Sagr. “This paradigm has the potential to work in a nation’s favour, as different ideas from different geographies can breed innovation. However, such setups do demand that employees are well-versed in soft skills, such as communication clarity, time management and conflict resolution.”
He added that, in the digital world, a grasp of data analysis and presentation is also a must, as well as the professional, technical skills that go with a worker’s chosen industry.
“But perhaps most important of all is the need to stay relevant – to hone the skills you have, so you remain up to date, because best practices are changing all the time,” he noted.
Al Sagr urged regional enterprises to ensure learning and development budgets are targeted at skills gaps, to maximise ROI. He also advised the compartmentalisation of training into subdivisions that make sense for individual organisations, such as sales, leadership and administration.
“Also,” he said, “encourage the workforce to develop, and have a stake in, their own PDPs [personal development plans].”
Regional organisations that have made efforts to train staff in much-needed skills often fall short of optimal results due to a lack of awareness of possible pitfalls. Al Sagr decried “outdated modes of training”, such as seminars and lectures, which have been shown to yield less-than-optimal results.
“Also, organisations across the region are finding it difficult to get the feedback they need from training programmes, especially when it comes to gap analysis,” he highlighted. “Employers should ensure that training approaches are engaging enough to deliver the desired outcomes. Invest in training that provides comprehensive feedback to trainees and management. From there, you can start to identify gaps from training and build on them.”
Most large corporates and multinationals in the region are heavily investing in training solutions, according to Al Sagr. Governments are meanwhile directing private companies to hire more nationals, with multiple incentive schemes currently in operation.
“Many companies are taking the approach that you need to learn fast or become irrelevant fast,” Al Sagr said. “Those that have not followed this credo, have faced increased headcounts due to a lack of qualified employees.”
EWTraining offers bespoke in-house programmes designed around individual operational requirements. Its programmes are designed around best practices within a client’s market and its training consultants work with organisations to discover skills gaps, measuring knowledge improvement through pre- and post-programme assessments.
“We use the latest tried-and-tested training methodologies – including gamification, activities and workshops – to deliver the best possible outcomes,” Al Sagr said. “Organisations get to tailor their own solutions, and track employee progress through a personalised online portal, all at competitive prices and with quality guaranteed. Individuals get access to courses that are relevant to current market and employer needs, delivered by hand-picked field experts. They too get access to an online portal to check their PDP progress, and they walk away with industry-recognised professional qualifications.”
Al Sagr is proud of EWTraining’s bespoke approach to professional development, saying: “We do not deliver one-size-fits-all solutions. We take a professional-development journey with each client – both individuals and organisations. We provide the technologies, activities and other facilities needed to ensure each trainee is properly engaged, to optimise outcomes. And our trainers are among the finest experts in the GCC and Middle East markets.”
EWTraining offers one of the widest ranges of professional courses available in the region. From accounting and finance, and from IT to leadership – whether individuals or organisations seeking to polish hard professional knowledge or brush up on softer skills, EWTraining are here to help, with a course in preferred languages.
To embark on your professional-development journey today, select one of the instant-click searches here and find the course that’s right for you.
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