Filling in the digital vacancies

The next wave of digital jobs will be shaped by the "Essential Eight" technologies, says Ali Matar, head of LinkedIn Middle East and North Africa
Trends, Recruitment, Jobs in MEA, Jobs in Middle East, Digital skills, Digital jobs, Data, Jobs in telecom, Telecom jobs, LinkedIn, Job search, Essential eight, Employment

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CommsMEA: How do you see the job market in 2018 versus 2017? What is going to be the biggest change?

Digitisation is changing how companies approach the process of hiring – it is also disrupting a number of jobs. To tackle this disruption, there is a need to create digital jobs. Based on our research, we see that digital jobs pertaining to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and information, communication, and technology (ICT) are increasingly in demand which we are expecting to continue this year. The next wave of digital jobs will be shaped by the “Essential Eight” technologies: blockchain, 3D printing, drones, virtual reality, augmented reality, the Internet of Things, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

CommsMEA: What about salaries - do you see figures going up or staying same or going down?

New digital technologies are expected to disrupt many sectors across GCC such as basic and infrastructure, health and professional services and public administration, forcing companies operating in these sectors to create more digital jobs. Digital jobs are more adaptable in the face of technological disruption, especially those related to emerging technologies in information technology, data analysis, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, or biotechnology. Therefore, jobs in these sectors that involve production, distribution, implementation, or servicing of ICT are expected to be in demand and therefore will also dictate the salaries they generate.

CommsMEA: We often hear people saying - “The market isn’t good for jobs now”. What’s the amount of truth in this?

According to a recent report that LinkedIn unveiled along with management consultancy firm Strategy&, there is a big gap when it comes to demand and supply of digital workforce in the GCC. Currently, digital jobs account for only 1.7% of the total GCC workforce, compared to 5.4% of the total EU’s workforce being employed in similar roles. In fact, GCC nationals are mostly employed in sectors at risk of disruption by new digital technologies. Only one of the 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.

CommsMEA: With the changing trends of the industries, do you see specific jobs disappearing from the market and new roles making their appearance? Could you elaborate a bit on that?

The LinkedIn and Strategy& report revealed that a very high percentage of GCC nationals are now employed in sectors which are at high risk of disruption by new digital technologies. This particularly affects jobs in professional services, public administration, infrastructure and healthcare. While Kuwait shows the most risk with 91% of nationals employed in these sectors, Saudi Arabia stands at 80%.

Digital jobs can adjust to new technological demands than many other jobs. The growth of such jobs will help nationals move from largely administrative jobs in the government sector to higher-value-added roles in industries with future importance.

With the right measures, the GCC can create 1.3 million digital jobs by 2025, of which 700,000 would be in Saudi Arabia.

CommsMEA: How has the process of candidate search, interview and recruitment changed in this market of late?

LinkedIn recently unveiled its annual ‘Global Recruiting Trends 2018’ report which stated that a new age interview process is emerging in MENA to solve the problems with traditional job interviews, as the talent leaders who were surveyed noted the bias problem in traditional style of interviewing.

More than half (58%) of hiring managers felt that interviewing innovations are ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ important to the future of hiring. Hiring managers are slowly opening up to new innovations such as job auditions, soft skills tests, meeting candidates in casual settings, virtual reality assessments and video interviews.

CommsMEA: What are the skills the employers are primarily looking at while recruiting new talent?

According to the most recent skills report where LinkedIn revealed the top skills to watch out for - statistical analysis and data mining, public policy and international relations and algorithm design, topped the list. We expect these skills to remain in demand this year.

Digitisation is changing how companies approach hiring and look at jobs. Skills pertaining to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and information, communication, and technology (ICT) in digital-related industries will also be in demand this year, based on LinkedIn research.

CommsMEA: If we look at the telecom sector, are job cuts still on the radar or happening already?

Job cuts or redundancies are completely a company’s prerogative, however what we know is that in the past year and according to LinkedIn’s Industry Talent report for telecommunication industry, UAE has been the second biggest country that has seen employment growth in this sector in the Middle East – a positive growth of 7.6%.

CommsMEA: What kind of talent is most sought after in the telecommunications industry?

LinkedIn’s Industry Talent report for telecommunication industry reveals professionals who have mastered the skills of management, team leadership and business development are the ones most sought after.

CommsMEA: Are there roles which are being let go of and roles which are being created new?

Digital job roles that involve production, distribution, implementation, or servicing of ICT are now gaining attention from recruiters and companies.

CommsMEA: What is driving job  switches?

According to LinkedIn data, last year 4% of telecom  industry professionals in the UAE changed companies. 61% of them cited excellent compensation and benefits at the new company a reason to make the job switch.

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