MENA’s Jobs Need Technology to Achieve Sustainable Future

SAP MENA has called for a comprehensive public-private partnership centering on policy overhauls, a national awareness campaign and a cutting-edge, project-enabling ICT platform to help combat the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s looming sustainable jobs crisis.

The situation in the UAE amply demonstrates the need to take decision action, with the Government recently calling for the creation of 20,000 jobs over the next decade, and an Emirati unemployment rate ominously hovering around the 13 per cent mark according to the Federal National Council – a problem exacerbated by the fact that less than eight percent are currently forging careers in the private sector.

In Saudi Arabia, the challenge exists on an even larger scale, with the country’s Labor Minister, Adel Fakeih, estimating that there are around 500,000 unemployed nationals, whereas Egypt is already mired in a jobs crisis, with2010 statistics indicating unemployment rates of over 2.5 million, and the situation is getting worse by the day.

To help combat such worrying trends, SAP MENA is currently undertaking an extensive feasibility study on how an unprecedented, region-specific ICT platform could improve leadership decisions related to job creation by aggregating, processing and presenting powerful, big picture-yielding datasets.

Among other things, this could incorporate established solutions such as E-Recruitment, Enterprise Learning, Learning Management Systems, Citizen Relationship Management, as well as social network tools and new media.

Selim J. Eddé -Head of Government Relations- SAP MENA, explained that the need for this kind of three-pronged approach is rooted in a strong belief that the journey from government dependency to private sector empowerment is largely reliant on small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) that strengthen communities and have the flexibility to innovate to sate unmet needs and market demands, as Zawya stated.

Selim said “While there are legitimate concerns about job creation in the MENA region, its governments certainly have the resource and, to a varying degree, an increasing sense of urgency to transform challenge into opportunity”, and he added “More importantly, they also have a large and passionate population of hugely IT-literate youth capable of shaping a new and innovative future. Everywhere you look, MENA is growing younger and more IT-empowered. “

“Moving forward, governments need to stimulate the development of existing SMEs, beget new companies through better financial solutions, provide greater access to markets, and facilitatetargeted mentoring of youth and entrepreneurs,” Eddé added, “ICT can be transformational to the sustainable jobs challenge, but only if used differently and coupled with empowered leadership”.