UAE companies are facing a shortage of talent that possess essential skills for key positions, especially in the field of sales and marketing, according to a new survey released on Monday.

Commissioned by Zurich International Life in the Middle East and conducted by market research company Radius Insights, the survey found that the employers that are grappling with a significant shortage stand at 24 per cent and they are increasingly aware of the impending impact of this talent shortage on their operations as well.

The UAE has introduced a host of initiatives and visas for freelancers, retirees and remote workers to attract the best talent from around the world. In addition, the government has also announced a Golden Visa for 100,000 coders to attract top talent into the country.

Conducted in July and August 2023, the survey covered 2,507 respondents in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, of which 1,255 were employers and 1,252 employees.

In addition to sales and marketing, operations and logistics; data security and IT; data science; manufacturing and production; and customer services sectors are facing the most challenges in hiring the right talent that meet their needs.

“Currently, there exists a shortage of talent possessing essential skill sets required for key positions. In the UAE and KSA, talent deficits stand at approximately 24 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively. These scarcities are most pronounced in the operations and logistics sectors in both countries, with the UAE additionally facing challenges in the realm of customer service. Notably, a significant majority of employers in both the UAE and Saudi Arabia acknowledge the medium to substantial impact this talent shortage will have on their business operations,” said Zurich International Life survey.

Ted Raffoul, career and workforce products business leader for Mena at Mercer, said one of the biggest challenges revolves around workforce supply, trying to understand what skills are needed for the future and trying to fill that gap.

“The emergence of artificial intelligence and its potential to supplant specific job roles or tasks is a complex challenge. There's been a big rise in tourism, hospitality, and travel industry since the pandemic. There’s a big shortage of jobs in that space,” said Raffoul.

The survey revealed that 3 out of 4 UAE employers feel there will be an impact of talent shortage in the future, especially in the finance and tourism/hospitality sectors. While the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) feel a higher impact of the talent shortage felt by the UAE.

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