The Governance and Innovation Program (GIP) and SAP MENA Launch the Regional Study “Social Media, Employment and Entrepreneurship” in a DSG Policy Forum
Under the patronage of His Excellency Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, UAE Minister of Labor, The Governance and Innovation Program (GIP) at DSG, in partnership with SAP MENA, held a Policy Forum, on Wednesday October 3rd, to launch a regional study on “Social Media, Employment and Entrepreneurship: New Frontiers for the Economic Empowerment of Arab Youth?”. The report is based on a survey answered by nearly 5,000 people and explores perceptions on the impact of social media on employment opportunities, entrepreneurship and social development. The regional survey covered a number of Arab countries, including: the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.
His Excellency the UAE Minister of Labor said in his keynote speech: “I congratulate the management of the Dubai School of Government for its initiative to hold this field research in cooperation with SAP MENA. The findings of the newly released report open up new paths to discuss employment issues and challenges of unemployment among young people throughout the Arab world. DSG’s initiative also highlights the need to promote a culture of partnership between government entities concerned with economic development and employment, as well as partnership and fruitful cooperation between the public sector, the private sector, the educational sector and training, in order to find successful and creative solutions to the dilemma of unemployment in the Arab world"
"The Ministry of Labour and National Human Resources Development & Employment Authority are fully prepared to contribute to the development of the Dubai School of Government initiative and keep up with the recommendations and suggestions in relation to investing the social media means for the purpose of economic development and employment. We are also happy to cooperate in this field with our Arab brothers.”, the minister added.
The forum included a distinguished panel of experts: HE Aisha Bin Bishr, Assistant Director General, The Executive Office in Dubai, HE Abdulbaset Aljanahi, CEO of Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Development, Samer Alkharrat, Managing Director of SAP MENA and moderated by Fadi Salem, Director Governance and Innovation Program. Panelists discussed the policy implications of the report findings for the UAE. The audience had the opportunity to provide their own input and delve deeper into the discussion topics with the panel members. A productive and informative Q&A session closed the forum. The forum was very well attended by senior government officials, practitioners and members of the press.
The report revealed that social media can have a dramatic impact on job creation and employment opportunities. Nearly 80 per cent of the respondents said that technology could help provide access to critical job market data. In addition to 76 per cent respondents claiming that it is beneficial in forming job-yielding partnerships and opportunities, 75 per cent saw it as a conduit for a new ‘virtual job market’. Meanwhile, 71 per cent claimed they would rely on social media to find their next job.
Social media’s influence in the workplace was also seen as pervasive and positive. Here, 86 per cent noted it increased intra-agency collaboration, 85 per cent welcomed its ability to connect with customers and 85 per cent said it inspired innovation. Furthermore, 78 per cent felt that social media’s powerful connective credentials can markedly enhance trust levels among the workforce.
The report also hailed social media as a critical tool for start-ups across the Arab world, with 86 per cent agreeing it contributed to business success. Among the reasons cited were its multifaceted marketing potential (90 per cent), a capacity to tap into wider markets (86 per cent), substantial customer engagement options (85 per cent) and its overall potential to raise awareness and instill entrepreneurial mindsets (84 per cent).
DSG’s report has highlighted that social media is viewed as a facilitator of significant educational advantages. While 84 percent respondents said students would benefit from utilizing social media in developing entrepreneurial skills, 76 affirmed they use social media and ICT tools to acquire such business abilities.
The primary drawbacks and negative connotations attributed to social media use in business largely center on concerns regarding the regulatory environment. People and businesses do not feel protected in the absence of appropriate laws regarding intellectual property, privacy and copyright, according to the report.
Looking ahead, 81 per cent of respondents agreed that national policies and guidelines would help facilitate better use of social media at work, and inspire entrepreneurial opportunities. The survey participants additionally called for educational reform to integrate such technologies in the classroom.
Fadi Salem, Director of the Governance and Innovation Program, DSG, and co-author of the report, said: "Despite having few stable economies in the region today, the most active part of the Arab population; the youth, is increasingly feeling empowered. Our ongoing research over the past two years has shown that close to 50 million Arabs are actively connected to social media and primarily use the platforms to change social and political realities in their countries. The ground-breaking research offers insight into new horizons for economic empowerment of the Arab youth. It is essential for policy makers and businesses to understand this emerging phenomenon and its impact on their societies and markets. We are delighted to team-up with business leaders such as SAP on our research projects.”
Sam Alkharrat, Managing Director, SAP MENA, said: “In a dynamic, rapidly evolving region such as the Middle East, where young, tech-savvy people are seeking to forge new opportunities, it is critical that companies use social media to engage both existing and aspiring employees. Harnessing value from the flow of big data generated from social media is critical for driving greater operational efficiency, cutting costs, boosting profits and unlocking new routes to innovation. “SAP helps customers tap into social media data to uncover insights and revenue opportunities they would never think to look for or are unlikely to find using traditional research methods. The DSG study reaffirms our belief that platforms of this nature have a stunning impact on the job market, the up-skilling of talent, as well as SME creation and empowerment.”
In addition to providing unprecedented insight into regional social media trends, results from the DSG study will form a key part of an ongoing feasibility study by SAP MENA for creating a cutting-edge, project-enabling ICT platform to boost sustainable job creation across the region. The pioneering platform will improve leadership decisions related to job creation by aggregating, processing and presenting ‘big data’ using social media and established SAP® solutions such as the SAP e-Recruiting application, the SAP Enterprise Learning environment, the SAP Learning Solution, and the SAP CRM rapid-deployment solution for citizen contact centers.
Racha Mourtada, Research Associate with the Governance and Innovation Program, DSG and lead author of the report, said: “Respondents were overwhelmingly positive about the role of social media in engaging governments and citizens for creating policies that benefit businesses and start-ups. It is also commonly believed that the platforms serve as an equalizer across different gender and age groups, with 34-40 per cent claiming that social media made them feel more empowered to create their own employment opportunities, or to influence social change.”
Panelists discussed the policy implications of the report findings for the UAE. The audience had the opportunity to provide their own input and delve deeper into the discussion topics with the panel members. A productive and informative Q&A session closed the forum. The forum was very well attended by senior government officials, practitioners and members of the press.