48% UAE IT decision-makers view shortage of IT skills as a threat to their business

Kamel Al-Tawil, Managing Director, Middle East and North Africa, Equinix.

According to the Equinix 2022 Global Tech Trends Survey, 48% of IT decision-makers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) view a shortage of personnel with IT skills as one of the main threats to their business. Companies—including Equinix—are looking to widen the talent pool, bringing in more diverse candidates through alternative recruitment drives. 57% of the UAE survey respondents acknowledged the speed at which the tech industry is transforming has left companies struggling to find people with the right skill sets to meet present and future challenges.

IT decision-makers in the UAE have identified that the biggest skills challenges for business as 50% the changing workforce expectation around ways of working i.e hybrid/flexible working and 40% candidates with the wrong skill sets applying for jobs.  Across the UAE, the most in-demand tech employees are IT technicians (28%), cloud computing specialists (28%) and those with an AI/machine learning aptitude (26%). Other skills shortages include security engineer (23%), data protection (25%), security software development (19%) and security analysis (20%). IT leaders anticipate the gaps in tech skills will remain similar in the future, with AI/machine learning becoming even more prominent. ​

Kamel Al-Tawil, Managing Director, Middle East and North Africa, Equinix stated: “The rapid pace of digital transformation in the increasingly digital world, have hiked demand for skilled digital talent. As the environment continue to evolve, getting the right people for the right jobs and engaging the interest of future talent in career opportunities in IT industry – one of the fastest growing and most dynamic landscapes there is – must be an absolute business priority. It is almost impossible to imagine a business today succeeding without a strong base of tech talent for an investment in tech talent is an investment in one’s business goals.”

In response to skills shortages, many businesses in the UAE are working hard to reskill people from other areas. Indeed, 75% said they reskill workers from similar industries, while 46% are trying to bolster their workforce with recruits from unrelated sectors. Indeed, tech companies that offer training and development opportunities could be better positioned to attract talent.

The most common sources of reskilled workers are administration and business support (44%), manufacturing (31%), and those returning to work after a period of absence (34%). These reskilled workers tend to help businesses bridge the tech skills gaps by working in IT technician (49%), cloud computing (39%) and data analysis roles (38%).

Equinix has a collection of career transition programs under its Career Pathways portfolio. These programs are designed to expand and diversify talent pools by drawing from careers with transferable skills, such as military veterans transitioning to civilian life, and retired Olympians and Paralympians, through a partnership with Athlete Career Transition (ACT). The career transition reskilling program constitutes 40% of field operations hiring globally, sourcing workers from adjacent industries, such as airline, oil and gas, and hospitality, and reskilling them to fill data center roles. Additional programs include the soon-to-launch Invictus, which will focus on hiring SkillBridge veterans disabled due to military service, New To Career, attracting new graduates, and refugee-targeted talent schemes. Collectively, these initiatives are targeted to bring the company more than 750 hires in 2022.

Meanwhile, businesses are also seeking to recruit through higher education and apprenticeship programs. IT leaders in UAE said their companies’ main ways of partnering with higher education institutions include offering student internships (48%), running collaborative training programs with higher education institutions (48%), offer grants to students who will join after graduation (46%) and outsourcing training programs to a higher education institution (44%). Equinix is further exploring partnerships with community colleges and vocational training institutions.

According to Brandi Galvin Morandi, Chief Legal and HR Officer at Equinix, “The survey reveals unmatched skill sets are hampering talent acquisition across tech-focused teams globally. There is an overall lack of understanding about the specific skills needed for certain roles, and potential candidates need better guidance around training, preparation, and job opportunities.

“This challenge hands our industry the opportunity to recruit and develop talent in different ways, and this is something we’ve been working to get ahead of in the past few years. We believe companies should foster a progressive talent development roadmap for tech roles that caters for both inexperienced and trained candidates. Another opportunity is mentorship programs—helping potential candidates gain access to an established network for career guidance, while connecting companies with suitable candidates for a robust talent pool. We also encourage higher education and vocational training institutions to work with tech teams within companies to ensure their curriculum imparts the right skills to students and prepares them for their desired careers,” Galvin Morandi added.

To further progress in this area, Equinix recently launched the Equinix Foundation, partnering with organizations to advance digital inclusion, from providing access to technology and connectivity, to developing the skills required for technology careers. The Foundation aims to support nonprofits working to prepare individuals of all ages and backgrounds to succeed in today’s digital world.