Posted on June 17, 2015

Governments, employers and academic institutions in the MENA region all have a role to play to address labour market inefficiencies, develop national talent, and ultimately drive long-term sustainability into the 21st century and beyond, according to the new MENA Talent Competitiveness Index (MTCI) report, compiled by INSEAD and PwC and sponsored by the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

This report is the first regional edition of the Global Talent Competitiveness Report (GTCI) which has rapidly become a global benchmark for talent competitiveness since its first publication in 2013. It is based on GTCI data and findings for nine Arabic-speaking countries in the MENA region: Algeria, Egypt, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. This regional report is intended to aid regional policy makers, educational institutions, and other interested parties to identify policies and actions to support talent development and growth as a tool for competitiveness and innovation.

Talent in the MENA region has never been a more critical ingredient than it is today, and is a key area of focus for Nations across the region. Governments as well as private employers face multiple talent challenges, from unemployment to lack of technical skills, and are working hard to change the way in which talent is developed, attracted and retained to unleash the true potential of the region and its people in the years to come.

Bruno Lanvin, Executive Director for Global Indices at INSEAD, founder and co-editor of the Global Talent Competitiveness, stressed that ‘It is both symbolic and fitting that the first regional edition of GTCI should be focusing on the MENA region: with 65% of its population under the age of 25, the region needs to create some 100 million jobs in the next twenty years, which is a formidable challenge. On the other hand, this demographic dynamism is also a superb opportunity for the region to identify, nurture and develop its talents and provide them with the opportunity to contribute to the competitiveness, innovation and visibility of their respective national economies.’

MENA Talent Competitiveness Index 2 [].jpgThe 2015 MTCI identifies six key areas for action and makes recommendations to: help improve policy decisions and business strategies; enhance the quality and effectiveness of business-to-Government interactions in the area of talent; and attract global attention to policies in the MENA region to further the exchange of mutual experiences with other parts of the world.

INSEAD and PwC believe that MENA nations can make a significant and sustainable difference to grow and develop talent by focusing on six key areas of action:

  • Building employable skills, by aligning education and vocational training to produce graduates with skills to meet the needs of the labour market, this drives economic competitiveness and reduces unemployment rates. Some of the region's skills gaps are sector specific (e.g. in education, engineering or logistics) while others cut across all sectors (entrepreneurship, leadership, big data and ICT for example). It is also important to keep in mind that vocational/technical skills (many of which can be learned on the job) will also remain critical to provide jobs and address labor market needs in MENA.
  • Promoting openness and mobility to enable talent growth by looking more broadly at what attracts people to stay in or move to a particular country, and considering options to ease labour and immigration policies while establishing a transparent framework that balances reliance on expatriate and national workers​
  • Developing technology and ICT skills for the 21st century economy by developing ICT education and labour policies to grow a tech-savvy workforce that will meet increasing demand and enable all aspects of the economy to grow, and creating ICT business-supportive policies to encourage a dynamic labour market​
  • Cultivating innovation and entrepreneurship talent by connecting innovators and entrepreneurs, supporting innovation and entrepreneurship, and by preparing students to be creative problem solvers​
  • Creating an ecosystem for women’s success by creating strategies for women’s career launch, growth, retention, and long-term success, whilst exemplifying role models to encourage women to excel and lead in their personal careers​
  • Fostering the next generation of leaders by cultivating leadership qualities in the next generation, for example, by creating leadership programmes in schools that evolve into fast-track schemes at business organisations

"Talent in the MENA region has never been more important than it is today. Technological advances, which are occurring at a rate much faster than previously thought, and ever-increasing global interconnectedness have created a knowledge economy which relies more on talent today than ever before," says Hani Ashkar, Middle East Senior Partner, PwC. "Although the MENA region still faces talent challenges, from unemployment to lack of technical skills, it is becoming clear that the way in which talent is developed, attracted and retained will play a critical role in unleashing the potential of the region in the years to come."

"The MENA Talent Competitiveness Index is a valuable tool for regional policy makers and private sector leaders in benchmarking the region's strengths and challenges in developing talent – a critical component to ensuring the region's competitiveness and ability to provide the jobs needed in the next decade," said Patricia McCall, Executive Director at the Centre for Economic Growth.