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AmerCable Incorporated


MEEF - Middle East Engineering Projects News & Releases Tuesday, 1 August 2006

Skills shortage

by Colin Edwards

By 2009, only 65% of the 114,000 job vacancies for skilled IT professionals will be filled in the Middle East. This is because of a growing IT skills gap. And by 2015, that skills shortfall could widen to 50% threatening the economic growth of some countries.

The warning follows a seven-country Middle East and Pakistan IDC Networking Skills survey commissioned by Cisco Systems.

IDC expects the ongoing economic expansion in the region to have a strong impact on ICT demand, which it forecasts as increasing at a compound annual growth rate of more than 16.9% between 2005 and 2009.

“Organisations are now, more than ever, interconnected entities that depend on the network for integration with their business partners. Not having sufficient networking skills available for this integration influences the competitiveness of not only organisations, but for the country as a whole,” says Phillip van Heerden, senior analyst, IDC.

According to Samer Alkharrat, general manager, Cisco Systems Gulf Region, the average supply and demand gap for the 50,000 skilled IT professionals required in the region at the end of last year when the survey of 210 CIOs was taken, was around 27%. It could rise to 35% by 2009.

And he warns that unless businesses and governments throughout the region tackle the issue of IT education soon, then the skills gap could stymie economic growth plans.

“The percentage is going up. The gap between supply and demand is going up. Obviously this varies country to country, but, on average, a 35% shortfall is a pretty big gap to address when you are growing your industry and when technology or IT plays a major role,” he says.

“It’s critical to any nation’s well-being, or any GDP growth, or any significant economic growth in any country when attributed to or tied to the use of technology. If you cannot adopt technology in a particular country, then basically you are less competitive and more vulnerable. You’re prone to be slowed down in terms of your competitiveness and readiness. So having the skilled force and having the skills in country will actually help accelerate the economic evolution of the country,” he adds.

The same study carried out across Western and Eastern Europe found an average networking skills gap of 11.8% by 2008.

The purpose of the Middle East survey, which included large and medium sized enterprises, telcos and SMBs in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Pakistan, was to determine the size of the IT and networking skills gap and project it to 2009.

Some of the countries surveyed had more of a problem than others. Most of the Gulf countries with the exception of Kuwait had between a 20% and 30% IT skills gap. Pakistan had a 30% to 40% gap. By 2009, the projections were that all countries surveyed, with the exception of the UAE would be above 30%, with some approaching 40%. Jordan, Kuwait and Pakistan were expected to be in worse shape than today unless more initiatives are taken to address this problem.

“If you take the projected figures up to 2015, it gets worse and worse and in some countries the gap gets up to 50%. That’s a serious problem. That basically stops a lot of projects from taking place; it stops the market from moving in the right direction,” says Alkharrat.
With 99% of the respondents indicating they use email or access the internet, the use of networks in the region plays an important role in everyday business life and means they have an IT skills requirement, he says.

The survey found the reach of the infrastructure or the network to be growing fast. Every respondent said that their use of the network would increase in the future and its importance would become far more relevant to the business in the future.

Nearly 75% said the proportion of IT network spend would increase relative to total IT spend over the next two years, and 63% expect to increase the number of networking skills employed. Of those that had hired people last year, 77% found it difficult to hire people with the right skills. In Education and Government, almost 100% had difficulty finding the right people.

The policy within most countries of increasing the proportion of nationals employed in key sectors would also affect the skills gap. Currently, the percentage of nationals employed at the surveyed companies is 60%. This is expected to go up to 70% by 2009.

“More nationals are going to be required to be skilled. So it’s not just a case of finding international or expatriate resources. The ex-pat and international percentages are shrinking in favour of having a more local skilled workforce,” he says.

While there are a number of regional initiatives currently underway in the UAE to promote further training in science and technology, the gaps forecasted by the survey highlight the need for more work to be done to provide the right training courses and to encourage student enrolment.

The study findings represent a call to action to governments, the private sector, educators and individuals to do more to address these needs. If plans are not put into place now, technology adoption, business competitiveness and market growth will be placed at risk.

“We need to continue to work with the Governments of these countries to raise awareness of employment opportunities across the regions, and encourage students to learn and develop both basic and advanced networking technology skills,” says Alkharrat.

While the UAE was shown to be the country with the smallest skills gap, the actual numbers were still big, he adds saying that by 2009 the UAE will be short of 19,000 people with IT skills.

“When you look at the gap for advanced technical skills, the gap is wider. The skills we’re talking about are not just installing, designing or supporting foundation technologies like IP networks, switched network, or the internet. This is basic stuff,” he says.

“But when you start talking about doing security, or doing data centres, storage networks, or wireless networks, then you are moving more to the advanced area of networking and in that area the gap gets worse – over 35% in those specific technology areas,” says Alkharrat.

Emaar Properties
About Emaar Properties PJSC:

Emaar Properties, the Dubai-based Public Joint Stock Company, is listed on the Dubai Financial Market and is part of the Dow Jones Arabia Titans Index.

Reiterating its strong grip on fundamentals, the global real estate major announced record net profits of AED 3.053 billion (US$0.831 billion) for the half year ended 30 June 2006 - a significant gain of 21 per cent over the first-half 2005 results of AED 2.533 billion (US$ 0.690 billion).

In December 2005 Emaar was awarded the Euromoney Gulf Real Estate Award for Best Overall Developer in the UAE as well as Best Residential Developer in the UAE. The awards, voted for by industry peers, took into account factors such as most consistent providers of high quality, profitable real estate projects and innovation as well as individual developments, both recently completed and those at the planning stage. 

Emaar has several real estate projects in its primary market of Dubai in various stages of completion. These include Dubai Marina, Arabian Ranches, Emirates Hills, The Meadows, The Springs, The Greens, The Lakes and The Views. The company has witnessed tremendous growth since its inception in 1997 and boasts a rapidly growing tenant base with more than 14,000 homes handed over to satisfied customers to date.

Emaar has begun construction of its most ambitious project within the UAE, the AED 73 billion (US$20 billion) Burj Dubai Downtown development, which comprises Burj Dubai - stated to be the world’s tallest tower when completed in 2008; The Dubai Mall - the world’s largest entertainment and shopping mall; Burj Dubai Boulevard; Burj Dubai Business Hub; The Lofts; Burj Dubai Lake Hotel and Serviced Apartments; The Old Town; The Old Town Island; man-made lakes; landscaped parks and gardens.

In line with its international expansion strategy, Emaar is currently working on projects in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Morocco, Turkey, Tunisia, India and Pakistan. In July 2006, Emaar also announced the opening of a full-fledged representative office in China, thus becoming the first Middle East property developer to effectively tap the potential offered by the world’s second largest economy.

  Major international projects include: Cairo Heights and Smart Village, both in Egypt; Boulder Hills, a world-class leisure and residential community in Hyderabad, India; multiple resort projects in Morocco, including Amelkis II & III and Bahia Bay, luxury residential golfing communities; Eighth Gate project in Damascus, the city’s first master planned community; and Lakeside in Istanbul, a landmark development for Turkey’s cultural and commercial hub. In Saudi Arabia, Emaar is embarking on the creation of King Abdullah Economic City, a mixed use AED 97.7 billion (US$26.6 billion) development covering 55 million square metres of greenfield land with a 35 km shoreline close to the industrial city of Rabegh. The City will create six distinct components - a modern world-class Seaport, Industrial District, Financial Island, Education & Healthcare Zone, Resorts and The Residential Area and up to 500,000 employment opportunities.

In addition, Emaar has teamed up with Giorgio Armani S.p.A to build and manage 10 Armani hotels and resorts across the world; an Armani hotel will feature in Emaar’s flagship Burj Dubai tower and other locations will include Milan, London, Shanghai, New York and Tokyo.

Expanding its portfolio further, Emaar forayed into the US by acquiring John Laing Homes, the second largest privately held homebuilder in the U.S., thus creating one of the world’s leading real estate developers in residential homebuilding.  Emaar also joined hands with The Turner Corporation, a leading building services provider, to form a new entity, Turner International Middle East Ltd to jointly tap regional growth opportunities.

In a move that scaled up its core competency in product sales across the international arena, particularly the Western hemisphere, Emaar acquired Hamptons International, the UK-based subsidiary of premier property developer Wheelock Properties (Singapore) Ltd in a deal worth AED 562.45 million (US$153.05 million). The acquisition covers Hamptons’ UK offices and its joint venture with CB Richard Ellis Hamptons International in the UK and Hamptons International Oman; and will build Emaar’s international network of offices to over 130 over the next few years.

  While continuing to actively pursue expansion in its core business of innovative, high quality real estate development, Emaar has diversified into related business lines to further build value for its 59,000 shareholders, which includes the Government of Dubai. Recently the award winning property developer announced plans to aggressively expand into the retail sector with investments of over AED 15 billion (US$4 billion) to develop approximately 150 malls in the mega emerging markets of the Middle East, North Africa (MENA) and the Indian subcontinent.

In January 2006, the company also announced plans to expand its investments into the education business within the MENA region and India. The initiative will involve the establishment of international schools in the MENA region and India which will offer premium quality education and an integrated curriculum for students ranging from kindergarten to tertiary levels.

Following Emaar’s expansion into the education business came that of its healthcare initiative in March 2006 where the property leader announced its plans to enter the healthcare sector in the MENA and South Asia markets. Emaar’s plan involves the construction of hospitals, clinics and medical centres and investing in the provision of world-class healthcare services. With a total investment outlay of around AED 18.35 billion (US$5 billion) over the next decade, Emaar’s plan is to develop and manage around 100 hospitals each with 200 bed capacities and super medical specialities added in key centres.

Emaar owns and manages EMRILL, a joint venture with the UK-based Carillion which provides innovative property and facilities management services. Emaar also holds 30 per cent equity in Dubai Bank, focused on retail and commercial banking and is the majority shareholder in Amlak Finance, UAE’s leading Islamic home financing company.

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