UAE could be hit with $50bn skilled labour gap by 2030

Businesses focus too much on technology as opposed to human labour, causing a skill gap in the market, according to the MD of Korn Ferry

Jonathan-Holmes, managing-partner, Korn Ferry Middle-East and Africa speaking
Jonathan-Holmes, managing-partner, Korn Ferry Middle-East and Africa speaking

By 2030, the UAE is likely to experience a skilled labour gap worth $50 billion, making up 5 percent of the economy, according to Jonathan Holmes, country chair and managing director of Korn Ferry Middle East.

Speaking at the Arabian Business Forum, Holmes said the gap which constitutes 110,000 skilled labour is a result of organisations focusing too heavily on technology as opposed to human labour.

“That’s not a number to be ignored. We would have $50bn extra in the economy if we filled the gap. Organisations have a blinded view of technology, where they have been focusing too heavily on technology as a solution for business, whereas people will become more important and costlier if organisations don’t change that,” he said.

Holmes urged business to ‘do more around people’ in order to avoid a shortage in skilled labour and as a result, a surge in salaries.

"Business leaders are a little delusional. Many think they have a solution, but paying inflated wages is not the ultimate solution. Organisations need to do more around people. If you have a skills shortage, you will have a salary surge, which will cost more money and affect the viability of businesses to be successful,” he said.

While Holmes said businesses should not choose between technology and people, he stressed that investing in human capital will continue to be as important as investing in technology.

"I think people versus tech is the wrong way to look at this. It’s not one thing or the other. When you marry tech and people, you will have true drive of success, [but] humans are still the core asset of businesses. For organisations in various sectors, even in manufacturing, they will still be the core of businesses to be successful. We have to invest in people,” he said.

The managing director said it is up to organisations and governments to look at the development of talent and human labour.


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