GCC holds a positive outlook on the future of work – PwC Middle East survey

COVID-19 has accelerated digital upskilling and the growing impact of technology

 on workforce in the GCC

17 March, 2021: A new survey by PwC in 19 countries, including four across the GCC, reveals that the way people work and the expectations they have for their employers has seen significant shifts in light of COVID-19. Reflecting the speed at which organisations needed to accelerate and develop their digital upskilling programmes to keep up with the change technology has presented.

Positive sentiment in the GCC

The survey titled “Hopes & Fears -Insights from the GCC” found that despite the pandemic, GCC workers sentiment about the future is positive, with 61% of workers saying they are excited or confident about what the future holds, while only 27% say they are worried. Additionally, as a result of the accelerated digital transformation caused by the pandemic, 71% believe that technology provides more opportunities than risks, while 40% claimed to have improved their digital skills during this time.

However, there is a growing concern that many jobs will become obsolete in the next 5 years due to technological advances, says 58% of the survey respondents.

Commenting on the findings Randa Bahsoun, Partner, New world. New skills. Leader at PwC Middle East said: “While enabling digital transformation and growing the digital economy has been a pillar of national reform agendas in the GCC, COVID-19 has accelerated this along with the evolving behaviors of a young, tech-savvy population.”

Accelerated digital transformation of work

It has been evident that employers that provided the necessary skills and technology during the migration to online and remote work were able to provide a seamless transition into this new way of working, while others were forced to play catch-up.  And, although remote working is here to stay for the time being, 72% of employees said that they prefer a mixture of in-person and remote working, with only 9% stating they’d like to go to the office full-time, and 19% wanting to remain fully remote.

As more digitally savvy Millennials and Gen Z’s dominate the workforce in a time of crisis and uncertainty, digital learning has become more important than ever. As a matter of urgency, young people need digital skills to embrace this digital world and workforce. This is widely accepted, with 86% of people surveyed stating that they are confident they can adapt to new technology entering their workplace. With around 60% of respondents in the 18-to-34 age group, this cohort is made up of “digital natives”, familiar with constant online interaction in their working and private lives and accustomed to rapid technological change. With a large part of their careers ahead of them, the survey findings show that when this group looks to the digitised future, they see employment prospects which they fully intend to seize. 

Making a difference in society

As people continue to deal with the ramifications of a global pandemic, workers began demanding more from the corporate world, pressing business leaders to weigh in and help solve our most pressing societal issues. People want their work and employers to make a difference in society, which is why globally, 75% of people said they want to work for an organisation that will make a positive contribution to society – and 81% of people in the GCC second the motion.

“The pandemic continues to reorder priorities and upend timelines, governments and business leaders need to work together to best support workers in this new normal, and recognize the larger role they play in society.” added Randa Bahsoun, New World.New Skills PwC Middle East Leader.

  • Between 26 January, 2021 and 8 February, 2021, PwC commissioned a survey of 32,517 members of the general public. Respondents included workers, business owners, contract workers, students, unemployed people looking for work, and those on furlough or who were temporarily laid off. The survey polled workers in 19 countries:  Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Netherlands, Poland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, UAE, UK, and the US.
  • Out of the total 32,500 surveyed globally, 2,500 were commissioned in the GCC, in 4 countries: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Qatar.

About PwC

At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We’re a network of firms in 155 countries with over 284,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at www.pwc.com.

Established in the Middle East for 40 years, PwC has 22 offices across 12 countries in the region with around 6,000 people. (www.pwc.com/me).

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