Middle East faces crippling IT skills crisis

The Middle East is facing an IT skills crisis that could permanently relegate it to the wrong side of the digital divide, according to research from McKinsey and Company.

  • E-Mail
By  Zoe Moleshead Published  April 17, 2001

The Middle East is facing an IT skills crisis that could permanently relegate it to the wrong side of the digital divide, according to research from McKinsey and Company.

Kito De Boer, managing director of McKinsey & Company, Middle East, says the region is generating only 10% of the skilled IT engineers it will need to prosper in the digital economy and warns that education authorities must tackle this challenge now.

“The supply of students from technical colleges and universities is currently about 8-10,000 students a year across the Gulf, but this needs to be 100,000,” said De Boer as he unveiled preliminary findings of a study into the Middle East's digital economy. “There is a big gap that needs to be addressed and significant investment in education that needs to be made,” he added.

According to De Boer, 500,000 IT jobs can potentially be created in the region over the next seven-eight years, but colleges and universities need to step up their supply of skilled and qualified students to meet this demand.

The high resistance to change and monopolistic attitudes that continue to prevail are also a massive challenge to the adoption of a digital economy in the region.

“The monopolistic environment needs to change if the region is to move from the wrong side of the divide,” explained De Boer. “Other players, ISPs and so on need to be let in and allowed to compete on an even playing field. Moving to privatisation doesn’t necessarily mean you lose.”

On the plus side, De Boer said the other key elements are coming into place in the region with increased infrastructure, in terms of the backbone and bandwidth, and capital.

“Capital is not really a problem, Dubai Ideas Oasis is a good example of the move towards investment in entrepreneurs and idea.”

De Boer was speaking on the eve of the Gulf e-Business International Conference (GEBIC), which runs from the 16th-18th April. The theme for the conference is the digital divide and key speakers will include Dr Ghinwa Jalloul, deputy in Lebanese parliament, Sheika Lubna Al Qassimi, managing director of Tejari.com and Vincenzo Schioppa, chairman of the G8 Dot Force.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code