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ICT talent beckons a new era of learning in the Middle East

ICT talent beckons a new era of learning in the Middle East

Adequate ICT talent is required to accelerate digital enablement plans across the region

The Arab world is responsible for some of the greatest breakthroughs in science and technology that have shaped our world as we know it. Arab scientists advanced the fields of algebra, calculus, geometry, and more, forming the basis of modern medicine and computing. This golden age of discovery was one in which people were open-minded to collaborate in ways that would allow innovation to flourish.

Today, the Middle East is in the midst of a new golden age. From smart cities to space exploration, the region is on a clear path towards harnessing the full value of technology to benefit communities, industries, and economies alike.

This second golden age is being driven by governments’ futuristic plans and visions that adopt technology, such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud computing, as the basis for sustainable socio-economic development. By leveraging the power of these advanced technologies, our cities can well and truly enter into a more connected, digitally-enabled future.

Developing the digital economy is a key component of this transition, as it will be a key contributor to socio-economic development. The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted governments to accelerate their plans for digitalisation. 5G is a priority, as it will introduce a new digital frontier that will enable technology to transform all aspects of society, across every industry. With this comes the creation of new jobs.

Adequate information and communications technology (ICT) talent is required to realise these ambitions. Talent is, therefore, the enabling factor in digital transformation.

According to the Arab Youth Survey 2020, 87 per cent of young Arabs are concerned about unemployment, and the World Bank estimates that the Middle East and North Africa will need to create 300 million jobs by 2050 to meet the employment needs of the region’s youth. Training local talent in the skills that will enable them to not only find gainful employment, but to contribute to the digital future of the region, is therefore a necessity – not only to increase employment opportunities but to bridge the Middle East’s ICT talent gap.

Promoting the development of talent is a shared responsibility of the public and private sectors. It will ultimately lead to benefits for society as a whole as we enter a new, intelligent era. Government authorities, telecommunications companies, and ICT vendors should contribute to building the talent ecosystem through open collaboration, targeted initiatives, and more.

Universities should also adapt their curricula to meet the requirements of ICT talent cultivation.

We can see great work being done across the region led by the public sector, but there is still a considerable way to go in order to empower a new generation of ICT experts. The private sector has as much of a stake in the development of the ICT sector as governments do. Providing local talent with the necessary training to become future leaders in this field is therefore as much in their best interests as it in everyone else’s.

Charles Yang is the president of Huawei Middle East

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