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New survey reveals skills gap crisis in the Middle East

BEIRUT | iloubnan.info - May 10, 2016, 09h19

Employers in the MENA region are experiencing difficulty filling open positions as they struggle to find employees with the relevant skills that they need, a recent study stated. Entitled “Skills Gap in the Middle East and North Africa”, the survey was conducted by Bayt.com – a Middle East’s leading job site – and YouGov – a research and consulting agency – among 1,350 MENA employers.

This is particularly surprising due to the fact that the job market is difficult these days. In the MENA region, only 17% of companies surveyed are currently searching for new employees. From these, most demand is seen for entry-level positions, with only 10% of employers surveyed currently searching for director-level candidates.

Yet, even with such limited hiring demand, it is still challenging for employers to find candidates with the required skill sets, particularly for senior positions. In fact, 70% of companies in MENA say that finding candidates for senior positions with the required skills is difficult (21% say it is ‘very difficult’), and 49% say that finding candidates for junior positions with the required skills is difficult (11% say it is ‘very difficult’). Interestingly, ‘technical skills’ are often seen as posing the least challenge, while ‘soft skills’ are regarded as most lacking. Indeed, ‘creative thinking’ (63%), ‘critical thinking/problem solving’ (63%), ‘adaptability /managing multiple priorities’ (60%) and ‘international work experience (60%) were seen as the most difficult skills to find at a senior level.

When comparing the feedback of employers to the perception of jobseekers, the skills gap is seen even more clearly. Contrary to employer feedback, job seekers in Lebanon generally regard themselves as having a high degree of competency across most skills, with those seeking senior positions being more confident regarding their skills and rating themselves higher on all skills, when compared to more junior job seekers. Despite this general positive view of their own skill level, more than half of job seekers surveyed (52%) say it is difficult to secure a job.

According to 38% of respondents, the best solution to tackle the skills gap crisis is by having companies provide enough training opportunities to employees.

 Suhail Masri, Vice President of Employer Solutions, Bayt.com, said: “Our data says the skills gap is very real. It is really interesting that the skills gap in the Middle East is not one of technical skills, but of soft skills. To add to the challenge, it’s much easier to assess and qualify a candidate based on his or her technical skills, as opposed to soft skills. At Bayt.com, we have been designing solutions to help employers find the most suitable talents and help job seekers highlight their non-technical skills for years, redefining the online recruitment landscape in the region. Over the past few years, the Bayt.com Specialties platform has evidently addressed an urgent need by our users to express their skills and expertise beyond the confines of the CV document. It empowers professionals to tell the stories that go far beyond a CV, while also helping employers discover these stories, and learn what these professionals are really all about. Often, the classic markers of competence, such as work history, education, credentials, and the like, are not the only pointers to professional leadership. It is well-thought-out, intelligent and original content related to areas of interest and expertise that can make people shine. That’s what Bayt.com Specialties is all about: helping professionals, at all career levels and in all industries and roles, to highlight their unique abilities and truly shine.”

“In today’s dynamic and ever-evolving job market, candidates need to be constantly looking for new ways to enhance their skills in order to differentiate themselves, optimize their profile and effectively navigate complex work environments,” said Joao Neves, Senior Research Director, YouGov. “Ideally, to maximize the impact of their efforts, industry leaders, educational institutions and governments should work together to provide job seekers with clear guidance on future growth areas in the region and most desirable skills to succeed.”

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