Dubai – MENA Herald: Governments around the world are urged to harness digitization and re-imagine labor markets to drive down unemployment, upskill the workforce, and grow their economies, according to a new report by The Economist Corporate Network, the business advisory arm of The Economist Intelligence Unit, launched recently at the World Government Summit.

Leaders at the World Government Summit united to tackle the pressing issues of unemployment and under-employment, especially for youth. Global unemployment has reached nearly 200 million people, with the majority being under 30 years old, while 30-40 percent of the global workforce is under-utilized, according to “Shaping the Future of Work: Technology’s Role in Employment.”

With the rise in the Digital Economy and Internet of Things era, employers are increasingly looking for highly skilled labor. However, there is a major mismatch between available jobs and applicants, according to the report, which examined some of the world’s 20 largest economies, including China, Germany, Italy, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, and the United States.

“Digitization offers a unique opportunity for government-led efforts to provide decision-makers at all levels with actionable data. As a result, countries can re-imagine the labor market models and re-platform processes to effectively match talent with opportunities, upskill job seekers and empower entrepreneurs. This digital journey has started across the world. Now, the question is not whether digitization will happen or not, it is who will be the leaders and who will be the laggards,” said Selim Edde, Global Lead for Employment and Labor Market Digitization, SAP.

Governments must take the lead in developing nationwide and regional technology platforms across the public, private, and civil society (academic, non-governmental organizations, individuals) sectors, with a strong focus on supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises, the report asserted.

By leveraging Big Data, analytics, cloud, and mobile solutions, this integrated technology platform could analyze millions of data points across citizens’ educational background, skills, and match them with job postings and talent development programs.

“Governments hold a vast amount of data about citizens and residents. Big Data analytics on this technology platform can unlock these data into actionable insights to support efforts to reduce unemployment, and also create value, economic growth, and more agile governance,” said Rainer Binder, Managing Director of Accenture’s global employment and social services practice.

However, the technology platform alone will not solve unemployment. Governments in southern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa must first address underlying structural issues, such as underinvestment in value-added industries, insufficient jobs, misalignment between jobs and skills, and educational quality, according to the report.

The GCC could benefit from internal labor mobility, especially for the high turnover of low-skilled workers, where a technology platform could enable organizations to save costs by recruiting and training locally. As there is also a shortage of mid-level skill sets, the region could benefit from introducing programs to upskill technicians and nurses, for example, the report said.

“Government innovation and public-private partnerships are essential for unlocking insights from Big Data analytics to drive Dubai’s transformation to a global benchmark Smart City. We are working with partners to use a centralized technology platform that not only enhances daily lives, but can also connect individuals to potential careers,” said Dr Aisha Bin Bishr, Director General, Smart Dubai Office.

In the Middle East and North Africa region, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in particular is forecasted to see more than 226,000 new entrants into the labor market per annum by 2025, totaling 17.9 million over the next 10 years, according to the report. The Saudi government will need to accelerate initiatives to support private sector employment, economic diversification, foreign investment, talent competitiveness, and female job placement, the report added.

Similarly, South Africa – which has the world’s highest unemployment rate – is called on to develop national educational standards, open up labor markets, and support affirmative action policies to integrate the disadvantaged into the workforce, according to the report.

Asian countries face a variety of issues, led by China’s weakening economy, Japan’s tight labor market, and South Asia’s low female labor force participation. However, technology applications could help them to weather the economic slowdown, and put in place tools that can deliver suitable jobs.

The World Government Summit attracted more than 3,000 personalities from over 125 countries, and 125 speakers in over 70 sessions. The attendees include VIPs and senior experts from the public and private sectors globally, ministers, decision makers, CEOs, innovators, officials, experts, entrepreneurs, academics, and university students. A number of initiatives, reports and studies are set to be launched during the summit and throughout the year. The summit ran from February 8 – 10, 2016 at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai.