Stock options, lifestyle options, being a part of creating cutting-edge services - all come into play when attracting talent. It doesn't stop with that. Image Credit: Shutterstock

The Fourth Industrial Revolution and its precursor, the digital revolution, kick started a race for tech talent. Countries and companies alike are acutely aware of the need to attract, retain and develop talent who demonstrate the highest potential in areas of AI, Big Data, connectivity, and cyber security among others.

In the UAE, every business and every entity remains focused on building a diverse knowledge-based economy, and with this, there is a pressing need to capture high calibre talent. Exceptional talent has been recognised as one of the most important factors for businesses on a national scale for their contribution to localisation and industrialisation.

‘We the UAE 2031’ captures this exactly. The plan seeks to further enhance the country’s standing as a global partner and an influential business hub by accelerating growth in the healthcare, education, sustainability and infrastructure sectors. What’s important is that the very first pillar of this vision is forward society, which stresses that achieving societal growth is only possible by enhancing the capabilities of citizens and maximizing their contribution in all sectors.

Tomorrow’s leading tech minds are vital to drive innovation, sustain competitiveness, and steer company evolution long into the future. Ignited by growing demand for technical skills well beyond the traditional technology sectors, competition for specialists is fiercer than it’s ever been. In this environment, the biggest question is – how can companies present themselves as a compelling proposition to talent?

Build bridges between education and industry

I’m a firm believer that if a company is to remain a competitive and innovative force, it must be, in no small part, an educator. The most effective measures are those that take the form of apprenticeships and structured professional development programs that serve to shepherd exceptional talent from education into industry. Here, theoretical and technical skills can be further nurtured where the magic happens – at centres of excellence, factories, or on ground, at technology industries, ensuring the full potential of talent is realised.

By connecting directly with talent before they graduate, companies are building relationships and affinity that position them as the preferred choice for jobseekers. More significantly, creating bridges between education and industry eases the transition of the most skilled graduates into relevant roles, ultimately strengthening the sector by placing the right talent in the right positions sooner.

Develop and grow with disruptive tech

When bridges are built between education and industry, the talent who crosses them must become immersed in disruptive technology. Doing so enables them to build relevant skills and future-proof themselves against the inevitable evolution that every technology sector experiences.

This bridge between education and industry plays a critical role in building and maintaining tech sovereignty as well, which is increasingly becoming a macro-economic need. In today’s highly interconnected world, strategic growth is only possible when nations and their biggest advocates - partnered tech companies - invest in localisation, industrialisation, and education.

This creates more demand for exceptional tech talent and, as a consequence, drives fiercer competition amongst the biggest tech institutions. Winning this race requires a company to demonstrate how candidates will thrive and master tomorrow’s skills within their organisation.

An emphasis on developing practical abilities is indeed fundamental here. It is essential to provide opportunities for employees to take part in projects with a high level of scientific and technical complexity, and consistently challenge them. This provides job satisfaction and builds meaningful career paths, supporting talent retention in the long term.

Action, not talk, on ESG

There has always been more to life than just showing up to work, and today, this rings particularly true. In the age of transparency, companies need to live up to the commitments they make externally, and of increasing importance are their environmental, social and governance standards.

Making a demonstrable contribution towards positive change for society, rather than talk alone, is a tempting complement to roles that challenge an individual’s skills. Regardless of technical specialism and day-to-day responsibilities, we are all ultimately working towards the same end for the societies we support — socio, economic and environmental progress. Action, not talk, towards these goals is sure to add meaning to life and capture the attention of talent.

The race for the most promising technology talent has never been fiercer, involved such a diverse set of industries, or been so closely tied to the long-term success of national economies and businesses. While there is no single strategy to win, countries and companies that commit to education, that prioritise the development of disruptive new-generation skills, and that demonstrate firm social and environmental action through investment in innovation and industrial development are best placed to triumph.