Future of Work: What’s pushing Egypt’s highly skilled labour away and how to retain them?


With disruptive technologies overhauling the global economy, the future of work and employability is quite a hot topic nowadays. When it comes to Egypt, overpopulation coupled with a deteriorated education system, make the question even more urgent; is Egypt’s labor market ready for the future of work?

In this article, we shed light on the issue of skills mismatches in the existing labor market and how companies, organizations and future employees can be better positioned to cope with the fast changes in the world economy.

Unemployability Vs. Unemployment

‎“Egypt has an abundance workforce; however, it lacks relevant and in-demand skills,” said deputy minister for planning Ahmed Kamaly ‎‎said during International Council of Small Business World Congress 2019 last week, stressing that skill mismatches in the labor market has led to an uneven distribution of income. ‎

Since employers find it hard to capture the right talent for the job, they have to import highly trained foreign ‎workers to fill the skill gap between supply and demand, especially in industries where there is a constant demand for highly-skilled labor, he further elaborated

Similarly, Representative of Federation of the Egyptian Industries Ahmed Fekry Abdel ‎Wahab explained how vocational training should fuel the future of work in Egypt, adding that many factories had to either ‎shut down because of the lack of the skilled labor, or import foreign workers. ‎

“The ineffectiveness of [high quality] vocational education –accelerated by the cultural misconceptions surrounding it –is one of the plights facing the manufacturing industry and the job market alike,” project coordinator at international labour organization (ILO) Shady Shenouda said to Business Forward.

He added that the tools and equipment used in vocational institutions are obsolete, which is why many employers are turning their focus to white collar laborers to get the ball rolling in their operations, leading to severe imbalances in the job landscape.

An acute skill shortage is looming in the occupations that are ‎most critical for business growth, with tech professionals being a clear example of such shortage. Skilled employees in that sector often get headhunted by international companies outside Egypt, partnerships team Lead at BasharSoft – the Mother Company of Wuzzuf & Forasna – Ahmed Barrada tells Business forward.

Allured by competitive salaries, flexible work benefits and the chances for a better quality of life, 10 percent of Egypt’s skilled labour force in the tech field are currently living and working abroad, WUZZUF Coaches Team Leader Amira Amin says.

Rethinking education:

“It is important for the students to be getting more information about the different career paths they are likely to pursue and the employment prospects for each, so that they make informed career choices and save their time and energy and avoid disappointments,” said Shenouda to Business Forward as he explained the importance of integrating career counseling in Egypt’s higher education system.

Lack of communications between recruiters and job seekers

“With companies thirsting after specific talent, recruiters across many industries are under constant pressure to find the right fit for the job. On the hand, job seekers are growing frustrated with being turned down without being made aware of what they’re lacking [in terms of skills], “explained Amin.

That being said, she highlighted the necessity of coming up with an interactive map for the labor market in Egypt – this map shall demonstrate skills that are most demanded by employers and the institutions and serves as a guide to job seekers so they can acquire those skills, know the number of available jobs, etc.

Speaking of centralization, Amin illustrates that the current job market is highly competitive given that most better-paying jobs with promising career prospects are only present in urban cities.

Future of workplace is people-focused:

“The most notable challenge [we] are facing regularly is how to fit the right talent for the right position that matches their capabilities and career aspirations within a tight budget,” HR Director at Inertia, Yasmine Reda said to business forward

Maybe the employer cannot provide your candidates the best offers in terms of salaries and other compensation, she further explained, adding that providing the best work environment that helps employees thrive and grow is crucial to securing needed talents.

University recruitment operation excellence manager at Microsoft Lamia El-Karmouty also explained that there is an intense focus on enhancing the worker experience.

“Establishing the most appealing work environment for employees in terms values, enhancing communications amongst staff, bettering the office politics, happen to the mega trends when it comes to the future of the workplace,” El-Karmouty says.

Up-skilling existing employees should be central to every employer’s development strategy, Career Coach Hassan El Qahhar tells Business Forward.

The group trainings are proven to be futile, he explained, adding that each department head should be responsible for laying out “individualized” training programs for his employees and conduct regular assessment to measure progress.

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    Copyrights © 2017 The American University in Cairo School of Business • All Rights Reserved