GCC workers optimistic and ready to build digital skills

30 March 2021 Consultancy-me.com 3 min. read

The GCC’s workforce is approaching the future with a sunny outlook, with many embracing the digital change that unfolded through 2020. This is according to a new PwC report among 2,500 workers in the region.

Surveys ran through February 2021 across GCC markets – UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman – placed in the context of thousands more responses from workers globally. The backdrop is a radical transformation in ways of working, which began as a response to infection risk and lockdown, but is finding its roots in workplaces worldwide.

According to PwC, around 70% of the workforce in the GCC and globally want remote working to persist in the future – at least for some days in a week. Another 20-25% want to work from home all five days, while less than 10% want to be back in the office full time. The underlying realisation is that a large share of modern tasks can actually be performed virtually.

Remote working is here to stay

So remote working as a notion has been widely embraced. That said, Covid-19 brought myriad other changes to operating models and processes – mainly driven by accelerated digital transformation. For many around the world, the scale of change has bred a tentative outlook on the future of work.

Not in the GCC. Nearly two-thirds of GCC workers are excited or confident about what the future holds, while less than 30% are worried. Globally, the workforce is split down the middle between optimists and the others.

And its not just blind faith: workers in the GCC are willing to work and secure their place in a tech-driven future, positioning technology as an opportunity rather than a threat. Roughly a third of the region’s workforce entered the pandemic with a lack of digital skills to meet the scale of change – higher than the global proportion.

GCC workers have adapted to new skill demands

Yet, more GCC workers successfully improved their digital skills over the course of last year than around the world, and a higher share are also confident in their ability to adapt to new technology. Indeed, 86% of people in the GCC are willing to completely re-train to build future employability, compared to 77% worldwide.

This endeavour has been met with support from employers. 90% of GCC employees have enjoyed some opportunities to improve digital capabilities beyond their regular job-description – compared to less than 80% globally – despite the fact that more GCC workers than their global counterparts feel the burden of upskilling falls on them rather than their employers.

Fear is part of the motivation here: nearly 60% of people in the region believe that technology could put their job at risk in the next half a decade, compared to less than 40% worldwide. In short, the burden for employees is to get themselves in shape for the future.

GCC workers are willing to adapt to future technologies

The burden for employers is to ensure that they attract or retain this talent, given that digital skills are at a premium globally. The researchers probed people on their expectation from the workplace, and the overriding theme is that a business should be diverse, inclusive, purpose-driven and socially responsible.

PwC Middle East senior partner Hani Ashkar explained how these qualities make for a better business proposition. “Inclusive teams lead to different perspectives, creative thinking and open collaboration. A diverse workforce and deliberate inclusion efforts help drive better outcomes that can actually lead to the broader economic development of our society, which benefits everyone.”