GCC youth ‘fall short on skills to excel in private sector’

By Andy Sambidge,

Published by Arabian Business  ( http://www.arabianbusiness.com/ )

Friday, 13 March 2015

Young people in the GCC fall short of expectations when it comes to having the character traits and intrinsic motivation needed to excel in a knowledge-based economy, according to a new study by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The global management consulting firm said in a new report that the region needs to address a growing talent mismatch which has created a major youth unemployment challenge.

BCG said for those aged under 25, the unemployment rate remains at 25 percent across the region. In parallel, the total youth population in the GCC has increased at an incredible pace, from 15 million in 2000 to almost 20 million in 2014.

“Given that young people make up the greatest proportion of the region’s population, youth unemployment is a critical issue for the GCC and a key priority for its governments,” said the report.

“Based on our findings, for employers, the main issue is that job seekers tend to lack some of the necessary competencies required to succeed in a knowledge-based economy,” said Dr Leila Hoteit, a partner and managing director at BCG Middle East.

“And, while these youth may be able to develop these capabilities on the job, the overriding concern is that employers are not finding a sufficient number of qualified candidates with the right character skills.”

Hoteit added: “Essentially, they are looking to hire young, talented individuals who are proactive, willing to take initiative, exercise patience, complete tasks autonomously, and be flexible enough to adapt to a changing environment or emerging challenges. GCC candidates, however, don’t always have the right levels of self-motivation.”

As part of its analysis, BCG said it aimed to establish the fundamental causes of the alarming skills mismatch between young job seekers and employers in the GCC.

Three major challenges were identified, said Dr Alexander Tuerpitz, a partner and managing director at BCG Middle East.

He said the first is that the development of character strengths such as grit, persistence and resilience is not sufficiently integrated into academic systems in the region.

The second is that governments tend to be overly reliant on using financial incentives to influence behaviour.

The third, he said, is that there is a lack of support from positive role models in the GCC. “We need more private sector role models who can guide and push citizens to achieve results in school and at work, to persevere in the face of failure,” he added.