Preparing for the Future of Work

Developing employable skills for an increasingly digitalized economy through digital literacy, lifelong learning, and upskilling

Middle East
04 December 2017

Participants in the high-level roundtable, organized by INSEAD, its Centre for Economic Growth and Google on INSEAD’S Middle East campus in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday November 28th, discussed opportunities to support skills development for the digital age in the UAE and highlighted the long-term commitment from the country’s leadership. The digital economy, through transforming work practices and conditions of employment, is an opportunity to leapfrog national development and economic progress. The discussion was based on the MENA Talent Competitiveness Index 2017, supported by Google and produced by INSEAD and the Centre for Economic Growth.

Digital literacy is the key to unlocking the full potential of emerging digitization in the workplace, in the provision of public services, at schools, and at home. Lifelong learning and upskilling support the development of employable skills for the digital age and prepare employees with relevant skills to meet the changing needs of employers.

Developing education systems that are relevant for the future economy is critical. Formal education performance and prospects of employability, i.e. skills that are needed by employers, need focal re-alignment for a smooth transition from school to work. Dr. Bruno Lanvin, Executive Director, Global Indices, INSEAD, said, “'The UAE, like the erst of the region, is facing a 'youth bulge', which calls for urgent and visionary policies to provide younger generations with meaningful jobs. The good news is that technology, innovation, and talent are combining here to generate new solutions and new attitudes to many of the issues raised by a global digital economy. Rather than being seen as a competition between human beings on one hand and robots and algorithms on the other, the future holds the ability for young economies such as that of the Emirates to put the human factor at the center of the innovation equation. As the regional leader in this year's Talent Competitiveness Index, the UAE has a special responsibility in such an effort, and can seize the moment to take visible action in education, in technology and in policies to create jobs and attract talents”.

The UAE shows a lower skills gap and higher ease for employers to find skilled talent when compared to other MENA countries. Investment and development remain an ongoing need as contexts change swiftly driven by technological advances on multiple levels and in numerous areas. Such context calls for human talent with inquiry-centric mindsets and with problem solving abilities who can compete in an interconnected global marketplace.     

Nicklas Lundblad, VP, Public Policy and Government Relations EMEA, Google, said, “Technology is a very important catalyst in shaping talent competitiveness. The UAE can benefit from global best practices and lead the way regionally, by helping more SMEs go online, equipping youth with the necessary digital skills, providing affordable high-quality internet for all, and utilizing Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning  to make government and business more responsive to citizens and customers”.

The UAE is the highest performing country in the MENA region according to the MENA Talent Competitiveness Index (MTCI) 2017. The UAE ranks first in the region for various input factors, such as attracting foreign talent and enabling a stable context for business operations.

The MTCI Index assesses a group of factors when determining a country's ranking such as the set of policies and practices, and enabling context, that allow a country to attract, develop and employ the human capital which contributes to its ability to grow, compete and innovate. The Index lists a series of actionable recommendations in the areas of: i) education and training; ii) regulatory and business landscape; iii) technology and digitization. The MENA report draws from the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI 2017).

The full report can be downloaded from the INSEAD website

About INSEAD, The Business School for the World

As one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools, INSEAD brings together people, cultures and ideas to develop responsible leaders who transform business and society. Our research, teaching and partnerships reflect this global perspective and cultural diversity.

With locations in Europe (France), Asia (Singapore), the Middle East (Abu Dhabi), and now North America (San Francisco), INSEAD's business education and research spans four regions. Our 165 renowned Faculty members from 41 countries inspire more than 1,300 degree participants annually in our MBA, Global Executive MBA, Specialised Master’s degrees (Executive Master in Finance and Executive Master in Change) and PhD programmes. In addition, more than 11,000 executives participate in INSEAD Executive Education programmes each year.

INSEAD continues to conduct cutting-edge research and innovate across all our programmes. We provide business leaders with the knowledge and awareness to operate anywhere. Our core values drive academic excellence and serve the global community as The Business School for the World.

Contacts for press

Chris Howells
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Aileen Huang
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Ilan Goren
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Cheryl Ng
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Linda Furtado
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