Report found percentage of digital jobs in the GCC workforce remains low compared to other regions
GCC countries must be an adaptable and skilled digital workforce in order to increase efficiency and achieve their national agendas, according to a joint study by the Ideation Center at Strategy& and LinkedIn.
The report, entitled 'Empowering the GCC digital workforce: building adaptable sills in the digital era', found that the percentage of digital jobs in the GCC workforce remains low compared to other regions.
Digital jobs in the GCC, for example, were found to constitute 1.7 percent of the region’s workforce, compared to 5.4 percent of the total in the European Union, with most GCC nationals more likely employed in sectors that face the risk of disruption from emerging digital technologies.
Ali Matar, Head of LinkedIn Talent Solutions for EMEA Emerging Markets, Middle East and Africa, noted that “only one in ten skills that GCC digital professionals cited matched the fastest-growing skills globally on the LinkedIn platform.”
“Although there is a regional trend towards more technical skills, these remain scarce for emerging technologies such as big data and analytics,” he said.
The report also found that the skills showing the most significant growth rate in the GCC remain focused on technology rather than sale and distribution, while in the rest of the world the most rapidly growing skills relate to product development - a mismatch the report attributes to an underdeveloped digital market. Skills highly sought after abroad – such statistical analysis and data mining – were found to be almost nonexistent in the GCC.
Notably, the report estimates that an enhanced digital marketplace has the potential to create 1.3 million new jobs in the GCC by 2025, including 700,000 in Saudi Arabia alone.
“Digital jobs are more adaptable in the face of technological disruption, and can support a more flexible working culture, hence allowing for self-employment and remote work – a model that encourages greater participation by women and the inactive youth,” said Melissa Rizk, a fellow with the Ideation Center, Strategy& Middle East’s think tank.
To create a digitally-savvy workforce, the report called for GCC countries to focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEMS) programmes in academia, as well as improve professional development opportunities.
On the demand side, the report called for GCC countries to push for great digitization, and review their approaches towards startups and digital entrepreneurship.