The growing reliance and integration of technology in everyday life is becoming more prevalent, as it is in the workplace. As the world transforms at an exponential pace, millions of jobs may become obsolete, so too, the opportunities for professionals who are not digitally or tech savvy.
We sat with Mariam Daher (MD), Executive Director of Forward MENA, to discuss the latest flagship platform, Forastech, working to bridge this divide and equipping talent in Lebanon with the skills needed to thrive. Mariam also provided insights for young professionals trying to navigate a challenging job market.
BDD: Firstly, why was Forastech launched?
MD: Technology continues to reshape the job market, and acquiring and developing digital and technical skills has become more crucial than ever. This is why Forward MENA, UNICEF and the World Bank joined forces to launch the Forastech platform. Forastech is a unique one-stop online destination that supports learners residing in Lebanon, aged between 17 and 32, to acquire the digital skills necessary to fulfill the jobs of the future.
Forward MENA, as a not-for-profit organization, has been actively developing the digital skillsets of people from all backgrounds to fulfill the jobs of today. We identified a gap in the market, and so, Forastech was launched with the support of UNICEF and in partnership with the World Bank, under the Skilling-Up Lebanon initiative. Forastech is financed by the PROSPECTS program of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
BDD: There are so many great features on the platform. Can you highlight some of the key features?
MD: The platform is really talent-centric. By joining Forastech, beneficiaries will:
- Gain insights about the most in-demand careers in the market today
- Compare their skills with those of specific careers, based on which they will receive a personalized job Matching Scorecard and consequently a personalized learning pathway
- Access a wide range of courses offered by global tech leaders, including Amazon, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Simplilearn
- Connect with employers who are seeking candidates with their skills and expertise
BDD: The programs seem to be very tailored, to support talent excel in their career of choice. What are some of the most in demand jobs today?
MD: There are several most in demand jobs nowadays, which require different levels of digital and technical skills. For example, there is a huge need for software and app developers and at the same time, there is a need for call centre reps and data entry professionals. Interestingly, these two jobs could be done remotely. Based on research by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) released in 2022, Lebanon could have a competitive edge for outsourcing opportunities in these two fields, among others.
BDD: What are the key skills that every professional needs in the workplace today and in the near future?
MD: We are finding that digital and technical skills are now demanded in all jobs, even if these jobs are not tech-related. In addition, employers are increasingly requesting young professionals to have great soft skills, especially when it comes to communication, collaboration and creativity.
BDD: So what role can employers play, to support their teams to grow?
MD: I believe that there are various areas employers could emphasize on in order to support their teams grow and these are:
- Continuous learning of employees, allowing them to constantly upskill and reskill in order to persevere in a challenging and evolving job market
- Fostering a positive atmosphere and an empowering culture where employees could thrive and fulfil their potential
BDD: And for the young professionals, what advice do you have for those entering a challenging job market?
MD: I believe that nowadays university degrees are not enough to enter a challenging job market. Young professionals need to enrich their university and college learning with a variety of upskilling initiatives, such as internships or acquiring market relevant certificates. In addition, no matter how technically competent young professionals are, they need to develop their soft skills in order to be able to compete in this challenging job market.
To learn more about Forastech, visit https://www.forastech.org/