Mind The Gap
"The Report, based on a survey of 240 companies, aims at understanding the skill gaps that exist in the labor force of these key sectors of the Lebanese economy and provides concrete recommendations on how to improve the situation. The Report was made possible by a generous contribution of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation.
Among the key findings, we highlight the following:
· There is pronounced gender asymmetry in these sectors. Female employees made up only 20% of those employed by the companies and worked primarily as managerial and support staff. They also made up a third of the semi-skilled workforce in the agro-food sector, representing both a constraint and an opportunity. Agro-food companies report that their semi-skilled workers lack an understanding of new technologies, quality control, cost control, and monitoring and evaluation. Yet, by providing training to women in these areas, it is possible both to improve their participation in the workforce and enhance the overall productivity of the sector.
· Of the total employees covered, 73% were Lebanese. For the most part, non-Lebanese are employed only as semi-skilled workers (“Mind the Gap” did not cover unskilled workers). While they are predominantly excluded from the ranks of management and support staff (and from the ICT industry as a whole), they make up 55% of the semi-skilled workers in construction and 48% in agro-food production. Among all the companies surveyed, the most acute skill gaps were reported within this segment of the workforce. By providing semi-skilled workers with vocational training it should be possible to address pressing livelihood issues (among both Lebanese and non-Lebanese) while also strengthening the performance of Lebanese industry at large.
· Policy-makers cannot afford to overlook the role played by microenterprises, which employ less than 10 workers, in the Lebanese economy. These entities represent 80% of all companies, with a further 16% made up of small businesses. It is particularly important that these enterprises scale-up over time, and that their needs are addressed. Slightly less than half of enterprises are based in Mount Lebanon followed by the Bekaa, which houses 20% of businesses working in these sectors.
· Across the three sectors, companies tend to embody a skills hierarchy. Limitations in training or knowledge that are encountered the managerial level, such as with site-development for construction companies or legal compliance for ICT, tend to become more acute among professional and semi-skilled workers. This suggests the need for more interlinked approaches to management and professional development, where information is shared between different groups of employees.
We trust that the Report will constitute a useful tool for policy-makers, businesses and partners of the international community working on livelihoods and economic opportunities."