PwC puts forward talent agenda for Qatar’s manufacturing skills gap

11 August 2022 4 min. read

The manufacturing sector in Qatar is a priority sector under the National Vision 2030 programme and a key contributor to the government's economic diversification agenda.

While the government and private sector are channelling considerable investments into industrial initiatives, research by PwC shows that the sector is facing a number of challenges on its journey – including a looming talent gap.

In its report, titled ‘Qatar’s manufacturing sector: Bridging the skills gap to drive sector growth’, PwC’s researchers found that the skills gap could reach a peak of more than 20,000 jobs in the coming eight-year period.

Qatar Manufacturing Sector Skills Gap 2022-2030

The skills gap can be attributed to several factors, among them are labour misallocation, skewed labour market and immigration policies, a relatively static structure of the education sector, as well as an inactive population reaching 13% in mid-2021 (up from around 11% around five years ago).

Deeper analysis by sub-sector shows that the pharmaceutical sub-sector is expected to have the largest absolute skills gap between 2022 and 2030, with current supply rates only meeting 4% of potential demand. The largest relative gaps, however, are in the Controlled Environment Agriculture, Additive Manufacturing and Desalination sub-sectors, which have the least amount of current transferable talent.

Sounding a warning on the matter, PwC partner Bashar Eljawhari said, “Growth of the strategically important manufacturing sector is dependent on the availability of appropriate skills and competencies. At the current path, it is unlikely that the current supply can meet the level of demand, therefore, measures should be taken now to ensure the sector has the capacity to grow.”

Skills gap by sub-sector 2022-2030

A talent agenda

So how can Qatar’s officials address the issue? PwC wouldn’t be one of the world’s leading consulting firms if it wouldn’t have – at least some – answers. The firm’s human capital experts have put forward five interventions that according to their calculations can bridge the talent gap in the manufacturing sector.

1. Academic Programs
Adjusting academic programmes to increase cohort size by 50-100% for targeted mid-expertise skills that are currently underserved by academic institutions, such as various engineering, pharmacy, biochemistry and food sciences disciplines, has the potential to increase supply even further.

Manufacturing Value Added (% of GDP)

2. Specialised Scholarships
The successful implementation of technical training initiatives is expected to add additional workers to the manufacturing labour supply. This means developing and subsidising technical programmes applicable to strategic sub-sectors with the aim of accelerating the employee career progression through skill development and retaining employees from non-strategic sectors.

3. Technical Training / Internal Supply
Offering specialised scholarships and incentivising nationals to join the private sector are crucial for closing the skills gap at the highest levels of skills. Specialised scholarships should focus on advanced skills that are not, or are only minimally catered for by academic institutions, where the demand may not be sufficient to introduce a new discipline. Aquaculture, horticulture, agronomy, rapid prototyping and microbiology are examples of such skills.

4. Incentivise Nationals
Incentivising nationals, should focus on national talent at mid to advanced skills. PwC’s analysis indicates that wage subsidies for national talent will close the wage differential between working in the public and private sectors; this should encourage those with the desired skills to enter the manufacturing sector workforce instead of joining the public sector.

Economically Inactive Population

5. Visa Policy-Revised Admission Systems
PwC estimates that if all initiatives are implemented successfully, the largest skills gains will be achieved by revising visa policies and realigning admissions systems. Specifically lowering restrictions for semi-skilled and unskilled expatriates from a predefined list of countries where the required skill sets are available.

Eljawhari concluded: “If all five of these initiatives are implemented concurrently, the cumulative expected benefits are estimated to be sufficient to bridge the expected skills gap between 2022 and 2030. Key success factor is that public and private sector stakeholders work collaboratively to implement the recommended initiatives.”