Analyzing Digital Skills Gap in MENA Countries to Inform An Upskilling Initiativeby Angela Elzir Assy , Sabine Habibian , Fadi Daouk
LinkedIn Jobs and Development
Digital technologies are reshaping work and traditional jobs. It is essential for workers across all sectors to acquire and strengthen their digital skills to stay competitive in the job market. A team from the World Bank Human Development Practice Group collaborated with LinkedIn to study the labor markets in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region, and to analyze the most relevant and characteristic skills according to selected industries and occupations in the tech and digital sector. This analysis works to inform policymakers, employers, the World Bank and its partners in developing tailored training programs for people to thrive in this digital age.
The rise and spread of digital technologies have brought transformational changes to the labor market. Basic digital skills and literacy will thus be essential for most employees to stay competitive in the future.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023, it is estimated that 83 million jobs will be displaced in the next five years, while 69 million jobs will be created, constituting a structural labour-market churn of 152 million jobs. Furthermore, the survey analyzed the expected impact of technology on employment with all but two technologies (i.e., robot, humanoid and robot, non-humanoid) that are expected to be job creators in the next five years. The skill sets that are in high demand today did not exist five years ago and the pace of this trend is only expected to accelerate.
Existing workforces in MENA are not well-equipped to reap the benefits of a digital economy 1. Considering the youth bulge in MENA as well as the high youth unemployment rate, opportunities brought by the digital and tech sectors should be seized upon to provide income generating activities and jobs for youth across skills levels. As people are adapting their skills for a changing job market, it is vital to understand the emerging trends in the labor markets in the MENA region by identifying key skills in demand across different occupations and industries. In doing so, countries become better positioned to address the skills mismatch in a country’s labor supply.
The World Bank MENA Human Development Practice Group leveraged data from LinkedIn to study the labor markets in the MENA region, specifically in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. These countries were selected as they represent a source of labor demand. Non-MENA countries were also analyzed to provide comparisons for some sections in the report. These include Australia, France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Japan.
The World Bank team analyzed the LinkedIn data as follows: (i) Global Skill Genome by Occupation; (ii) LinkedIn Hiring Rate by Country and Sub-Industry and; (iii) Skill Genome by Country and Industry.
The team also found fluctuating hiring rates across the selected MENA countries and across sub-industries. Tunisia for instance displayed the steepest increase in IT services and the IT consulting sub- industry across the MENA region. This finding raises an important question related to what extent Tunisia’s skills ecosystem differs from the other MENA countries analyzed in the study.
Going forward, the World Bank team will be leveraging the results stemming from this analysis as a reference in the partnership discussion with leading tech companies to increase access to their trainings and certifications. The global list of most characteristic skills founds, as well as the one related to specific industries, will be worth investigating for when selecting the specific technical digital skills training to offer. All MENA countries analyzed in the paper showcased a high increase in their LinkedIn Hiring Rate in the IT sector (i.e, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the UAE). This confirms the strong potential of outsourcing in the digital and tech sector.
Note: Data analysis and feedback on the write up was provided by Casey Weston, Senior Manager, Public Policy & Economic Graph at LinkedIn, and Rosie Hood, Senior Data Scientist, Economic Graph Research Institute at LinkedIn. The team is grateful for the guidance, feedback and comments provided by Andreas Blom, MENA Education Practice Manager.
The Upside of Digital for the Middle East and Africa, World Bank Group, 2021, https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/37058/9781464816635.pdf?sequence=10&isAllowed=y ↩︎