BCG finds UAE Future Skills score at 62 above global average of 47, boosted by immigration policies

Dr Leila Hoteit, Managing Director and Senior Partner at BCG Middle East

Reducing the mismatch between the skills a workforce possesses and the work tasks that it needs to perform is critical to increasing overall productivity. To accomplish this goal, governments and businesses must trace the root causes of the skills mismatch and adopt innovative policy measures to tackle them, according to a new Boston Consulting Group, BCG, report titled Alleviating the Heavy Toll of the Global Skills Mismatch.

The report also unveils an interactive evidence-based assessment tool Future Skills Architect, FSA, designed to help policymakers and business leaders uncover instances of the skills mismatch in their economies. By using the FSA instrument, a government can uncover many factors underlying the skills mismatch in its country and can adopt strategies to reskill and enable the workforce. Findings from BCG’s FSA tool show that the UAE has an FSA score of 62.3, above the global average of 47.2.

BCG’s analysis points to the need to address three pillars of capabilities, motivation, and opportunities that underpin the creation of a vibrant and productive workforce. The UAE performed well in the categories of self-realisation, accessible opportunities, and skill liquidity. In particular, the UAE performs exceptionally well in the area of skills liquidity, where decision-makers ensure that people outside a job’s immediate location apply for it, to enlarge the candidate pool for every job, and to give every candidate access to a larger pool of jobs.

That might seem likely to happen naturally in a post-Covid-19 world, where remote work has become the norm, but government policies, especially those relating to immigration and company practices play an important role to widen the talent pool for each position. In addition, the UAE has also made a significant push in improving the quality of their schools, in particular private schools, as shown by the latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study results.

BCG analysis highlights two key areas that the UAE should improve to create a future-ready society and economy. Firstly, Planners and HR specialists must cultivate a Human-Focused Environment by understanding the specific needs, values, and demands of talent, whose knowledge, skills, experiences, and ambitions differ greatly from one generation to another. Secondly, policymakers and business leaders must figure out how to unlock the potential of different types of labor in the economy, including older workers and people with determination.

The report shines a light on how some governments are pursuing practical policy measures to counteract the pandemic’s impact and, at the same time, address the skills mismatch in their countries.

Three practices stand out:

  • Deploying digital talent-matching platforms
  • Facilitating remote skills development through online education
  • Encouraging and incentivising reskilling and upskilling during the crisis

“Countries around the world, including the UAE are faced with a fundamental skills-related problem, as the skills required for the future are rapidly evolving, further exacerbated since the pandemic began. Responding to the skills mismatch should be at the top of every country’s human capital development agenda, as it continues to be a costly burden holding back economic growth opportunities of the future”, said Dr Leila Hoteit, the global leader of BCG’s education, employment, and welfare sector and co-author of the report.

“Although governments and businesses are aggressively tackling pandemic related short-term employment challenges through retention and redeployment of the workforce, they must also work together on reskilling to meet future needs, make opportunities visible, and provide the right context for people to be motivated.”