Industry Thought Leadership

ICT Talent is Key to Building a New Era in Science and Technology

November, 2020
Li Xiangyu (Spacelee)
VP of Public Affairs and Communications

Huawei Middle East

The Arab world is responsible for some of the greatest breakthroughs in science and technology that have shaped our world as we know it. Arab scientists advanced the fields of algebra, calculus, geometry, chemistry, biology, medicine and astronomy, forming the basis of modern medicine and computing, amongst many other disciplines. This new era of discovery was one in which people were open-minded to collaboration and exploration in ways that would allow innovation to flourish. Today, the Middle East is in the midst of a new era; from smart cities to space exploration, the region is on a clear path towards harnessing the full value of technology to benefit communities, industries, and economies alike.

This second era is being driven by governments’ futuristic plans and visions that adopt technology, such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud computing, as the basis for sustainable socio-economic development. By leveraging the power of these advanced technologies, Middle Eastern cities can well and truly enter into a more connected, digitally-enabled future.

Developing the digital economy is a key component of this transition, as it will be a key contributor to socio-economic development, something that governments across the Middle East are becoming increasingly aware of. Adequate information and communications technology (ICT) talent is required to realize these digitalization ambitions. Talent is, therefore, the enabling factor in digital transformation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted governments to accelerate their plans for digitalization. 5G is a priority, as it will introduce a new digital frontier that will enable technology to transform all aspects of society, across every industry. With this comes the creation of new jobs.

According to the Arab Youth Survey 2020, 87% of young Arabs are concerned about unemployment, and the World Bank estimates that the Middle East and North Africa will need to create 300 million jobs by 2050 to meet the employment needs of the region’s youth. Investing in training local talent in the skills that will enable them to not only find gainful employment, but to contribute to the digital future of the region, is therefore a necessity – not only to increase employment opportunities, but to bridge the Middle East’s ICT talent gap.

Promoting the development of ICT talent is a shared responsibility of the public and private sectors. It will ultimately lead to benefits for society as a whole as we enter a new, intelligent digital era. Government authorities, telecommunications companies and ICT vendors should contribute to building the talent ecosystem through open collaboration, targeted initiatives, programs, and more. Universities should adapt their curricula to meet the requirements of ICT talent cultivation.

Huawei is committed to encouraging and fostering ICT talent in the Middle East through initiatives such as the Huawei ICT Competition, our Seeds for the Future program, Huawei Academies, and internship programs. This is preparing young talent for the career landscape of the not-so-distant future, in which the demand for skilled IT and ICT professionals will be critical in order to meet the needs of expanding economies and major national projects.

We can see great work being done across the region, led by the public sector, but there is still a considerable way to go in order to empower a new generation of ICT experts. The private sector has as much of stake in the development of the ICT sector as governments do, and therefore providing local talent with the necessary tools and training to become future leaders in this field is as much in their best interests as it in everyone else’s.