DWTC highlights potential Middle East skills shortage

Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), the organiser of Gitex 2006, believes that this year’s show will provide the perfect platform for the regional ICT sector to address concerns regarding a future skills shortage.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  October 22, 2006

Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), the organiser of Gitex 2006, believes that this year’s show will provide the perfect platform for the regional ICT sector to address industry concerns regarding a potential future skills shortage. A shortage of suitable IT skills required to meet burgeoning demand across the region could even slow the growth of the sector according to senior executives at DWTC. “We’re seeing businesses and organisations right across the region investing heavily in technology, but they need to focus hard on ensuring that they have the right skill mix,” said Trixee Loh, DWTC general manager for exhibitions. Citing IDC research, DWTC points out a potential skills shortage in three major areas: networking, project management and hands-on skills. Hot technology areas such as IP telephony, security and wireless all face growth constraints due to a potential skills shortage. In the advanced networking arena DWTC claims that the skills shortfall in the Middle East is projected to touch the 40% mark by 2009 — twice the percentage shortfall expected in Europe. With the Middle East recording some of the highest GDP growth rates in the world during the last three years, ICT investment has soared, increasing the demand for skilled professionals — especially in the networking arena. IDC expects Middle East investment in IT hardware to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.9% between 2005 and 2009. During the same period software spending and IT services spending are expected to climb by a CAGR of 11.2% and 10.8% respectively. “The business environment has evolved in recent years. Organisations are now, more than ever, interconnected entities that depend on the network for integration with their business partners. So not having sufficient networking skills available for this integration influences the competitiveness of not only organisations, but for the country as a whole,” explained Phillip van Heerden, senior analyst at IDC. Driving knowledge transfer and skills development is a critical in the skills development cycle of major vendors in the region. GITEX 2006 is expected to serve as an ideal platform for both vendors and industry experts to explore future collaboration. A number of IT training companies, including New Horizons Computer Learning Centre, International Learning Solutions, Sites Power, Al Khaleej Training, Dubai Netlink and others, will be showcasing their learning and training offerings at the show. “Technology vendors are keen to look at ways in which they can help ensure that students and IT workers across the region are able to keep abreast with the latest innovation and developments taking place,” said Aliya Al Ali, project manager at DWTC. “GITEX 2006 will be an ideal platform that can bring the different groups together to help promote a common goal. We expect the show to provide an excellent opportunity for networking in the skills arena, allowing IT professionals to understand the skills that will in demand as new solutions are rolled out across the region,” she added.

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