For many new entrants into GCC employment ranks, English would be their second or third language. Which means more efforts are required on upskilling its use. Image Credit: Shutterstock

The MENA region has emerged as a key player in global digital transformation and development.

A McKinsey Digital report revealed that the region boasts one of the highest rates of digital engagement worldwide. In this landscape, employers and employees must take proactive initiatives to invest in the skills and training necessary to remain competitive and drive innovation forward.

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There is a huge appetite for learning and development among younger generations. Deloitte’s survey ranked learning and development opportunities as the second highest priority for Millennials and Gen Z workers when evaluating potential employers.

Employers in the region must recognise the importance of training and development and understand the significance of equipping their workforce with future-oriented skills, fostering a workforce that is capable of navigating today’s challenges.

Employer's role

Employers need to keep up with technologies that have the potential to reshape industries and transform existing functions. According to PwC's Workplace report, a majority of employees in Kuwait (75 per cent), Qatar (60 per cent), Saudi Arabia (58 per cent), and the UAE (46 per cent) believe that their countries are facing a scarcity of specialised skills. Despite this, respondents from the region display higher confidence compared to the global average (47 per cent to 40 per cent globally) in their employers' prioritisation of upskilling.

Pearson, the world’s largest learning company, designs programs to equip businesses, employees and HR leaders with the necessary skills for the future of work. According to Pearson's Skills Outlook 2023 survey, carried out with 4,000 employees worldwide, individuals acknowledge that they will need to upskill to meet the demands of their careers.

Continuous learning

According to the World Economic Forum, over 60 per cent of survey respondents in the Middle East consider specialist training as an essential requirement in their jobs, surpassing the global average of 48 per cent. This indicates that workers in the region are willing to enhance and diversify their skill sets, and it is now up to businesses to invest in their development to build a thriving workplace and increase profitability.

Skills such as digital literacy, creativity, deductive reasoning, and other future-oriented skills are in high demand.

In a globalised economy, English proficiency also plays a crucial role. English is the lingua franca of business, an astounding 1.75 billion people speak English. It acts as a bridge that connects individuals from diverse cultures and facilitates seamless information-sharing worldwide.

Leveraging tools for future-ready workforce

There are numerous resources available to help businesses enhance their employees' language skills. One such tool is MondlyWorks by Pearson, which utilises advanced technology to provide a personalised learning experience. This allows employees to improve their language proficiency at their own pace, seamlessly integrating lessons into their work schedules. It caters to specific industries, including hospitality, retail, banking, and more, making it a valuable addition to employees' benefit packages.

Assessing candidates’ English skills can be time-consuming and subjective. However, with Pearson's Global Scale of English (GSE), a standardised measurement of English proficiency, recruitment companies can benefit from a detailed analysis of language skills and the framework to personalise learning pathways. For this, Pearson offers Versant, a fully automated digital assessment of language skills — speaking, writing, reading, and listening.

Auto-scored digital assessments ensure that candidates from different educational and cultural backgrounds can be assessed at scale using the same objective criteria, providing fast and fair results to expand a company’s talent pool.


English language proficiency is crucial for businesses seeking to remain competitive and for individuals aiming to explore limitless career opportunities. Today, the majority of English speakers have learned it as a second or additional language, mostly for professional purposes.

In dynamic workplaces, this serves as a catalyst for fostering effective communication, collaboration, and teamwork. Organisations that prioritise the development of English language proficiency can cultivate a workforce capable of thriving in the global marketplace.