It was interesting to note that youth unemployment is one of the biggest concerns in the recent survey conducted across the region. To be honest this comes as no surprise as the region has suffered from high youth unemployment for many years. In survey after survey unemployment comes up as a key concern of the young.
I was interested to learn recently that in India, with a similar problem, business leaders were complaining that many young Indians do not have the skills and competencies businesses require.
The same problem is here in the Middle East and fortunately here in Bahrain the government has in place Tamkeen. They have, for over a decade, provided support to enhance the productivity and training of the national workforce.
So, what can be done as we seem to have a mismatch that results in businesses not being able to source the talent they need with the skills they require?
Apart from specialist skills such as those required by a doctor or a lawyer there is a need to have amongst all of the young job seekers core skills that are necessary in the workplace of today.
When interviewing young people, I try to find out how well they get on with other people as well as assessing their Emotional Intelligence (EQ). I’m a great believer in the importance of EQ especially when it comes to appointing someone in a supervisory, management or leadership position.
In the Middle East and South East Asia there is a greater tendency for emotions to be hidden beneath the surface of daily business interactions. We need to understand that emotions are an asset for someone in a leadership role when used wisely and a source of disruption when ignored.
One of the big issues in the GCC is the ‘melting pot’ of people who live and work here. This presents an issue for many of us especially those of us who do not come from this part of the world. Here, as in much of Asia there is a tendency to look for harmony and this is not found to the same extent in Europe or the US.
Harmony is not only within oneself but within groups individuals belong to, for example a family, or a tribe. Linked to this search for harmony is the ability to maintain self-restraint. This is evident in decision making situations where Westerners tend to want to reach a decision quickly whilst many from the Middle East and Asia do not act in an impetuous way.
I remember an example someone shared with me many years ago about an American and Japanese joint venture. After signing the agreement, the Americans expected to immediately get started and if there were any issues they would be solved along the way. This was the opposite of the Japanese who wanted to study in detail the venture with them spending many months assessing the risks and opportunities.
Due to little or no communication from Japan for many months the Americans gave up any hope of making the venture work. Then suddenly to the shock of the Americans the Japanese came back ready to launch the venture.
Two very different approaches to doing business which sums up very different attitudes in different parts of the world. Our differences are in many ways our strengths.