Nationals need IT skills to drive local economy

Public and private nationalisation schemes in the region seek to boost the number of locals employed in career-focussed jobs

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By  Mark Sutton Published  April 2, 2001

IT skills drive local economy|~||~||~|It is not just the school-age population in the Middle East that is looking to IT training to improve its employment prospects. Across the region adult populations are looking to retrain in IT skills, to build local IT markets and end reliance on Western and Far Eastern companies.

The drive to train nationals is particularly strong in the GCC, where regulatory requirements to employ nationals are putting more pressure on employers to fill vacancies locally, and to make sure that those nationals are given proper jobs and career paths.

To aid the process of getting nationals equipped with the proper skills and put into the workplace, a number of government, and private organisations have been established. Ahmed Ali Al-Sarkal is acting general director with Tanmia, a semi-government organisation established in the UAE at the end of 1999. Since starting operations in October 2000, Tanmia has registered over 1,000 Emiratis, many of whom are looking to be placed in IT positions.

“IT training is vital in terms of equipping the national with the competencies required by the markets,” said Al-Sarkal. “We are conducting an ongoing study to identify the sectors that are important to the economy, such as IT, and trying to match the requirements of employers with the candidates that we have.”
Tanmia is also concentrating on providing IT skills as part of the more general training that it provides to candidates, along with business languages and other skills. “We don’t see the IT component in isolation to the rest, we design the course with built-in IT skills — it is a prime component of the skills required by the market,” he explained.

Nationals are also looking for opportunities with multinational IT companies, according to Marina Verthese, a recruitment consultant with private company National Human Resources. “They are now more into career development, and looking for a career-oriented place where they can develop themselves, such as Microsoft or Dubai Internet City,” she said.

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