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Report Reveals UAE’s ICT and Media Sector Growth Challenged By Skillset Gap

DIAC supports education in areas related to the ICT sector including Cloud Computing, IT Strategy and Customer Analytics

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, - Wednesday, October 8th 2014 [ME NewsWire]

The findings of the ICT and Media segments of a recent Workforce Planning Study, commissioned by Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) and conducted by Deloitte, revealed that the anticipated increase in manpower demand within the ICT industry faces some key challenges, primarily a shortage of critical skillsets. The study surveyed over 2,400 students across 17 markets in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, alongside a cross-section of companies.

Of the companies surveyed, 60 per cent indicated that product development skills are the most lacking amongst mid-level employees within the technology sector, while 80 per cent reported customer analytics and data mining as the top skills in demand in the telecommunications sector and 71 per cent of the companies surveyed from the media sector felt that advertising sales skills are most lacking.

Dr. Ayoub Kazim, Managing Director of Dubai International Academic City and Dubai Knowledge Village said, “DIAC’s Workforce Planning Study is a useful tool in enabling us to better support Dubai’s substantial industry growth. The survey findings enable us to directly inform the market about skills gaps and trends in the growing ICT industry, allowing it to confidently prepare for the future. We see an important role for us in bridging the gap between industry and academia, and we will continue on our mission to close the skills gap which, if not addressed, could significantly hinder Dubai’s economic growth.”

The study also revealed that IT strategy is the most crucial skill gap within the technology sector, particularly among mid-level and senior professionals. For entry level employees in the ICT sector, customer service skills were felt to be the most underrepresented. Leading IT research firm Gartner found that IT spending in the MENA region surged 5.5% year-on-year to $192.9 Billion in 2013 and the DIAC Workforce Planning Study revealed that ICT growth spending in the UAE is projected at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.66%, so the skill gap is only going to widen if without the necessary educational opportunities and training schemes in place.

“Many of our universities offer degrees in fields related to the ICT sector – British University in Dubai offers graduate programs leading to a PhD in Computer Science; American University in the Emirates offers a BSc in Computer Science, Digital Forensics, Graphic Design, and Network Security; Heriot-Watt University offers a BSc in Computer Systems, an MSc in Information Technology, and an MSc in Computer Systems Management; Middlesex University offers programs leading to a Master’s in Business and Computer Network management; BITS Pilani offers a B.E in Computer Science; and University of Wollongong offers programs in Computer Engineering. Supporting sector-specific education is an important step towards addressing the skill set shortage issue we are currently facing,” Dr. Ayoub continued

57% of respondents surveyed for the Workforce Planning Study said that social media will be a key focus for their future communication plans. Digital marketing is on the rise, and organisations are increasingly focusing on social media as a key component of their strategy, with outsourcing continuing to register double-digit growth. New segments such as smart systems and cloud computing are becoming more widespread, calling for greater specialist skills than ever before - International Data Corporation recently released a report forecasting 43.7% annual growth for cloud based service in the UAE through to 2016.

Dr. Ayoub added:  “Dubai is rapidly transforming into a smart city and leading ICT destination. It is with this in mind that we have devised the Industry & University Partnership (I-UP) Forum. The inaugural event will take place in December and will bring together professionals from universities, industry, and government departments to discuss potential collaborations, partnerships, research, and business development opportunities, with the ICT sector as a key discussion point. As the Education Cluster, we are dedicated to bridging the gap between industry and academia, and hosting event such as this is our way of laying the groundwork for a robust framework that will help Dubai and the UAE achieve its goals of building a knowledge-based economy.”

In 2013 theDubai’s Smart Government initiative was widened to a vision that would see Dubai become a Smart City. This initiative has since drastically changed the way the Emirate’s government operates and how people and businesses alike can interact with it.The drive to achieve this ambition will lead to the implementation over 100 initiatives covering transport, communications, infrastructure, electricity, economic services and urban planning. By focusing on further developing e-Government services, the UAE jumped 21 places to 28th out of 193 states in the 2012 UN study on the use and potential of ICT. With a further 1,000 government services due to be turned into ‘smart’ projects in the next three years, this trend is only set to continue.

- Ends -

Notes to editors:

About Dubai International Academic City

Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) is the world’s largest Free Zone dedicated to Higher Education. Established in 2007, as part of TECOM Investments – a member of Dubai Holding – DIAC aims to develop the region’s talent pool and help establish the UAE as a knowledge-based economy through the provision of multi-tiered academic institutions that are internationally accredited.

DIAC is located on a fully-appointed 18 million sq ft campus with state-of-the-art facilities. It is home to a large number of  universities from 10 countries, including Amity University, Heriot-Watt University, Michigan State University, University of Wollongong, BITS Pilani, Hult International Business School, Murdoch University, and Manchester Business School, to name a few.

DIAC provides more than 400 certificate, diploma, undergraduate, post graduate and PHD programmes to over 20,000 students of 125 nationalities.

About DIAC Workforce Planning Study

The DIAC Workforce Planning Study is the region’s most comprehensive, independent study regarding workforce skills gaps that currently exist within emerging markets. The survey of over 2,400 students across 17 markets in MEA and Asia and a cross section of companies was held in conjunction with leading consultancy firm Deloitte. The aim of the study was to garner how students and businesses perceive the education landscape in the region, and to uncover how well the UAE’s current education programmes are serving the needs of industry. According to the corporates surveyed within the study, there are 64 skills in high demand across a range of sectors including the skills required for entry and mid-level roles in the energy sector.

Harriet Daly, Bell Pottinger
 +971 55 4593260  


Brendan Vyner, Brand Manager TECOM Investments Education Cluster
 +971 4 360 2960





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