Home HR & Learning Technology Prioritising Skills for Digital Transformation in the Middle East

Prioritising Skills for Digital Transformation in the Middle East

As Middle East is one of the world’s fastest-growing regions for tech, it's time to prioritise skills for digital transformation.

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The Middle East is one of the world’s fastest-growing regions for technology and digital transformation. This is not surprising, with countries across the region, especially the GCC countries and Egypt, growing rapidly, with governments driving major digitisation and infrastructure projects, and a large, increasing population of young people set to generate continued demand for essential goods and services well into the future. Never has it been more important to prioritise skills for digital transformation.

Increasingly business competitiveness, employee performance and satisfaction, and customer experience rely on the combination of technological advancements and skills readiness. Yet although many citizens around the world are hopeful for technological change, confidence in their capability to make the most of these opportunities over the coming years is weaker.

Digital skills are key to unlocking prosperity

Our new digital-first world revolves around everyone having the skills to participate. A global commitment to bridging widening digital skills gaps – prioritising skills for digital transformation – is fundamental to our world’s future success and prosperity.

A key part of this must include differentiating between everyday and workplace digital skills, preparing the workforce for new jobs that will emerge, and reimagining the role business can play in cultivating a culture of continual digital learning.

As public and private sector organisations look to invest in digitisation to tap these opportunities, it’s clear that there is a vital part of the equation in need of attention – skills. As most of us involved in the tech sector will attest – finding young people with the right skills to drive digitisation is not easy, as there is a shortage of IT professionals with the nuanced knowledge required to join the industry, pick up the baton, and run with it.

According to Salesforce research, 8 in 10 global workers already use digital skills in their day-to-day work but few expand their horizons beyond collaboration technology, digital administration and project management.

Nearly a quarter (22%) of global workers rank AI skills as among the top three most important digital skills right now. This number rises when asked about the importance of these skills over the next five years.

Despite its importance to their future skill set, only 1 in 10 workers say their day-to-day role currently involves AI. A mere 14% say their role involves other, related digital skills like encryption and cyber security, and a smaller 13% claim to use coding and app development skills.

The industry indexing the highest for AI skills, specifically, is the technology industry, but even for this industry, less than a third of employees (27%) use AI skills within their roles today.

Fortunately, companies seeking to boost emerging technology skills and focus on skills-based hiring have something going for them — workers want to expand their limited set of digital skills. 9/10 of all respondents believe that businesses should prioritise digital skills development for their employees.

Addressing the skills for digital transformation challenge, together

At Salesforce, we are optimistic that this skills for digital transformation challenge can be addressed, and we are actively engaging with regional stakeholders including governments, universities, students, and our partner and customer ecosystem, to help foster the skills that are most in demand.

We started engaging with partners in the Middle East about two years ago and we are now working with 14 universities across six countries in the region, including the UAE, KSA, Jordan and Lebanon, where we provide students with training via our Trailhead platform and internships with Salesforce partners and customers.

The skills for digital transformation program is proving very popular with all stakeholders because everyone benefits: The universities get to offer training and internships, students gain experience that can lead to exciting employment opportunities, and Salesforce, along with our partners and customers, make valuable connections with students and graduates who have the right skills to start adding value from day one.

By continuing to equip workers with the digital skills for digital transformation, we can unlock new growth and opportunity whilst addressing upcoming challenges.

We’re proud of the early successes of the program and are excited about ramping it up by engaging more stakeholders and working with a growing number of students across the region. We are currently working with our top 10 strategic channel partners, and we are keen to get many more involved from our extensive network. There are currently over 1000 students participating in Salesforce courses at universities in the region, and 50+ students gaining valuable skills and experience as interns, 10 of whom are currently full-time employees within our Partner ecosystem.

With technology advancing at such a rapid pace, it’s vital that all parties involved in the sector collaborate to ensure the next generation is well prepared to drive the next wave of transformation, to ensure that training and recruitment scales up to match digital demand, to reach all aspects of society, and to accelerate growth.

Together, we can rethink digital transformation and life-long education, ensuring a digital-first mindset to help close digital skills gaps more efficiently, helping MENA governments to deliver their national strategies and bringing new levels of efficiency and innovation to help organisations thrive amid rapid change.

Now more than ever, businesses must work closely with governments and community stakeholders, to ensure that training and recruitment scale up to match digital demand, reach all aspects of society, and accelerate recovery and growth. Together, we can rethink digital transformation and life-long education, ensuring a digital-first mindset to help close digital skills gaps more efficiently.

Matthew Lambert is Regional Sales Director, Alliances & Channels, Middle East, Salesforce

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