Lebanon : A major obstacle to job creation stems from a gap in available skills, according to the recently published report: ‘Mind the Gap’ by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). It said that the economy needs to generate six times the jobs that are currently being created in order to absorb regular market entrants. It also highlighted youth employment as a particular problem.
UNDP commissioned a survey to 240 companies among three sectors: Food manufacturing, residential construction, and ICT. Chosen because they are the most productive sectors, these sectors employ large number of non-nationals, and have traditionally served as drivers of growth.
Companies often complain that they are unable to find the skilled labor required. Among those who are already employed, 41 percent believe that their education is irrelevant to their current occupation.
A gender imbalance also exists within these sectors. Figures from the surveyed companies reveal that female employees represent 20 percent of those employed. Females worked primarily as managerial and support staff, but also made up 33 percent of the semi-skilled workforce in the agro-food sector.
Agro-food companies reported that their semi-skilled workers lack an understanding of new technologies, quality control, cost control, and monitoring and evaluation skills. The report said that providing training to women in these areas will improve their workforce participation and enhance sector productivity.
Three quarters of the employees surveyed were Lebanese. Non-nationals, who are employed only as semiskilled, made up 55 percent of the semi-skilled workers in construction and 48 percent in agro-food production. Skill gaps were reported within this segment. The report recommended they should therefore be provided with vocational training.
Agro-food companies stated a need for employees with better understanding of market research and marketing principles, and better advertising knowledge.
Construction companies stated that skilled professionals lacked adequate knowledge in waste management, displayed weakness in environmental impact related skills, and weakness in the use of scientific methods.
ICT companies wanted to improve their personal allocation of resources, prioritize key work better, and have stronger project management.
The report recommended helping companies understand user needs and market dynamics. It also recommended investing in language training schemes for skilled professionals, as well as matching between student’s education and the demands of the labor market. It also recommended creating public private partnerships such as skills councils, where all government agencies, businesses and industry associations, and educational and training institutions, should all be involved in this process to coordinate and share resources, ensuring comprehensive dialogue on skills’ issues.
Note: News shared for public awareness with reference from the information provided at online news portals.