Middle East companies training staff for AI-powered jobs – Khaleej Times

The majority of senior executives in the Middle East expect to be living in a new reality by 2030 with great focus on improving the environment, leveraging technology to make society smarter, collective well-being and human ingenuity, says a new survey.
More than half (54%) of senior executives in the region expect emerging new lifestyles to arrive within five years, such as state of health influencing where people can travel, responsible denizens to fuel stronger local economies, affordable technology to increase economic self-sufficiency, environmental concerns to drive new modes of transport and smarter habitats to inspire more connected living.
Citing an example, it said Al Islami Foods in UAE is mastering innovations that focus on human care. The UAE-based company known for frozen meat, seafood, vegetables and fruits has moved into the plant-based market by launching its first vegan burger in early 2021.
Made from a combination of sunflower, pea protein and fava beans, the plant-based burger involved eight months of research and development and testing. The company plans to expand its frozen plant-based range beyond the new burger at affordable price points to promote and accelerate sustainable change in consumer eating habits.
However, the survey found that 56% of companies in the Middle East are not proactively reshaping their pre-crisis strategies to thrive in this expected new reality.
The survey covered 200 respondents from the Middle East from the various sectors energy, financial services, infrastructure, consumer and retail, manufacturing, health, education, life sciences and technology.
AI-powered jobs
In the next five years, companies in the Middle East will prepare the workforce for a more automated and artificial intelligence-powered future.
Around 38% of companies in the UAE, and 45% in Saudi Arabia, are now preparing the workforce for a more automated and AI-powered future. Considering the growing importance of this new-age technology, the number of companies preparing their employees for an automated future will grow to 69% in the next five years. At the same time, other initiatives will attract the attention of Middle Eastern companies, including putting sustainability at the center of their businesses, mastering innovations that focus on human care, and deploying technology more responsibly.
“With increasing automation and adoption of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, companies play a critical role in investing in new talent and strengthening workforce readiness for the jobs of tomorrow. This requires companies to invest in new foundational capabilities (e.g., technical skills in data, analytics and AI) to create a workforce that can succeed in a very different future. Companies will also need to focus on finding and attracting leaders capable of charting a different course,” said the report.
“Preparing for a different future calls for a vivid appetite to hire different leaders (e.g., new roles such as chief AI ethics officer) and use talent partners to tap into niche skills. Forerunners also expect to invest early in not just STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) but also softer skills such as HESS (humanities, education, social sciences) to prepare the talent pool for new jobs of the future (e.g., digital anthropologist),” it said.
According to Accenture’s study, companies in the Middle East lag in investing early in reskilling and attracting talent with STEM skills. The survey results found that 51% of companies in the UAE, and 70% of firms in Saudi Arabia, invest early in attracting talent with STEM skills compared to 61% worldwide.
Sustainability future
Demand for environmentally responsible conduct of companies is also reaching new heights as consumers become increasingly aware of the worsening effects of climate change. Businesses in sectors that had not always managed natural capital carefully (e.g., transportation, energy) are now turning around to finding solutions that will stop or reduce ecological degradation.
One in three senior executives in the UAE, and less than one-third in Saudi Arabia, believe that sustainability will be their top business focus in the next five years, while 55% of companies in the region are attracted to building and investing in sustainable infrastructure for the future.
“Around the world, the desire for a more sustainable future is calling for cutting-edge solutions, ranging from building greenfield concept cities to transforming existing living spaces to become smarter and more sustainable. As companies turn ambition into action and invest in sustainable solutions, they will inevitably become new job creators,” the report said.
Future jobs in the Middle East
> 14.5% of jobs to be fully automated over the next five years
> 28% of jobs to be AI-augmented over the next five years
> 41.5% of Middle Eastern firms now preparing staff for automated, AI-powered future
> 64.59% of Middle Eastern firms will prepare staff for an automated, AI-powered future in the next five years
Middle East: Prominent attributes of future society by 2030
> 70 % greater focus on improving the environment
> 67.5% great focus on leveraging technology
> 66% increased focus on collective well-being
> 64.5% more emphasis on human ingenuity
> 52% higher focus on improved income equality
Source: Accenture
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