I have been working in the digital industry for the past 5 years in Lebanon. When I started back then, it was an emerging industry and the online references were limited to couple video tutorials. Today. the resources and academies produced by top companies in the tech industry cover all aspects of the digital skills including coding, design, and marketing. Yet, the formal education system, and graduates displaying a poor work attitude are the among the main reasons fresh graduates in Lebanon can’t get hired or find jobs.
It is true that skills gap is a universal problem. Employers around the world in different business sectors are experiencing difficulty finding the right candidates with the required skillsets and the MENA region suffers from the highest youth unemployment rate (80%) in the world especially among fresh graduates. Yet the absence of digital skills has been a rising issue across all careers whether related to technology or not, with the increasing transformation of how we do things every day.
The HR landscape can no longer apply the traditional business practices. Today, social media plays a vital role in hiring. Most recruitment is done through social networks changing the world of HR professional. Online HR tools are developing to connect and understand employees and to reach and attract talent. Not to mention the quick social media background checks to assess candidates whether that should be taken into consideration or not. Thus, the use of digital in HR is a must and HR professional are encouraged to learn and develop digital skills.
I have given above a very simple example of a business that it’s employees should be empowered with digital skills in order to succeed. But if I had to talk about careers that are the heart of any digital service and in which having digital skills is not an option but rather a MUST. I would be talking about marketers, designers and programmers.
The 3 roles needed for ANY company to thrive in the digital revolution.
A travel agency requires a designer to create couple engaging posts for social media. Also, a developer to constantly update their website, and a marketer to provide a working strategy and the same process applies to any other business.
Today, the most in-demand jobs are those related to the digital skills. There has been recently a significant job growth of marketers, designers, and programmers in Lebanon specifically and in the Middles East in general. I have been trying to recruit fresh graduates in Lebanon in the above fields. Yet, I am really surprised by the lack of the very basic digital and soft skills.
The most common feature is that most show up to the interview late, that is if they actually show up. Most don’t even remember the company they applied to. Not to mention that they don’t actually invest their time in researching what the company does before showing up to an interview.
It is sad that fresh graduates in Lebanon aren’t equipped with the desired digital skills required in the modern workforce. Individuals and with very basic research will notice that for example, graphic designers in most businesses are required to do work for online materials. Such as designing a blog post to be placed on social media, or a banner for a website. Thus, showing up to an interview with couple bags full with university projects won’t really help. It is true that the current education systems in Lebanon have not kept pace with the demand for these digital skills. But what is also true, is that the number of free online resources available to help you learn such activities has rapidly developed in the past couple years. You can check Hootsuite Academy for social media skills, CodeAcademy for coding, TeamTreeHouse for web design…
What is really also surprising is that even when candidates were guided to learn and develop the right digital skills, the attitude of not willing to learn or work on self-improvement makes a big portion of fresh graduates in Lebanon “unemployable”.
Although i have a degree in advertising, and i can remember that most content related to marketing i came across during university was related to the traditional marketing approach and not related to the digital space. So, i did start my career by working for free to understand what digital marketing was. I have managed to develop digital skills when the only available online resources were couple youtube videos. But “i have learned for myself”.
As my career developed, I realised that the “digital marketing skills” are no longer enough. I found myself learning photoshop, illustrator, and Dreamweaver… Possessing such design skills is mandatory. compliment marketing. It helps marketers understand how much time is spent to create banners and how typography and colours represent a brand.
As marketing evolved more and more into the digital space, coding was the next must-have skills. I found myself learning basic coding skills including html, css, and some php. The only was to learn is never reading but rather practising and this blog was born. From installing WordPress, choosing a theme, and editing content. Then tapping into e-commerce with magento, and woocommerce. Installing a payment gateway, uploading a landing page on the server, and editing the content of a bootstrap page helped me understand how better “marketing instructions” can help developers work efficiently.
The digital skills gap is a product of multiple trends that can be summarised into two main points. First, the modern-day digital skill requirements outpacing formal education. Second, companies should be helping fresh graduates in Lebanon develop such skills in the workplace. Fresh graduates should also have the “right attitude” and willingness to learn or else the ability to grow and to innovate in Lebanon will be severely constrained.
Today Lebanon is in desperate need of a political revolution. “#YouStink” movement has failed to change the regime but it has succeeded in shaking up the country, attracting the vast majority of the population and reawakening the Lebanese which shed light on the impact of social movements in achieving change. Sabaa, a supposedly new political movement launched an extensive campaign on facebook and billboards across the entire country.
The teaser campaign is well prepared in terms of content and layout and has managed to generate curiosity, interest, and engagement. The amount of money spent to advertise the new social movement has speculated lots of conspiracy theories although there are lots of Lebanese in Lebanon and abroad willing to fund and support the cause of a better Lebanon without having hidden incentives. No statements were released to further explain the simple political slogans, videos, and designs used in the campaign which went viral triggering massive numbers of “facebook fans” in a short period of time and heavily engaging the Lebanese community.
Monitoring the limited content shared on their facebook page, you can draw few common personalities of users in the Lebanese community:
- Naive: Already showed blind support for the movement and are ready to follow without even knowing what they represent.
- Judgemental: Already believe the movement is deceptive, thrown accusations and drew their own conclusions.
- Pessimistic: Already assumed the movement will fail without even knowing what the movement is about.
- The Amazing: Those who actually want to listen: Showed enthusiasm, support for the cause not the movement itself, and are looking forward to knowing more before commenting.
The current political situation in Lebanon and the government’s failure to provide basic services has pushed the Lebanese to look for hope and change in the recent rising movements. So let’s hope Sabaa “SabaaPolitics” will actually produce real change.
If you are planning to buy a product from an online shopping website in Lebanon make sure to check AliExpress before purchasing, so you don’t end up paying double and triple the actual price. Here’s how to buy products online from AliExpress to Lebanon.
The online shopping market in Lebanon is growing rapidly. We have seen many Lebanese E-commerce websites selling products online that pretend to be cheap when compared to the prices of the same product in the Lebanese market. But If you heard about AliExpress, then you know those websites offering supposedly “cheap products” are considered really expensive compared with AliExpress.
Below is the result of the research, same product, some quality but different prices. First screenshot, taken from the most popular websites in Lebanon and the second screenshot is exactly the same product presented by AliExpress.
Shipping from AliExpress takes around 15 days to two months, you can find the same product presented by different sellers, each seller has a different rating, always check the feedback before the seller before purchasing. Regarding the shipping costs, China Post Air Mail is the best shipping method requires more time but is usually free and liban post will deliver your product to your doorstep at no additional cost.
Couple days ago I saw a report regarding online copyright infringement on local news in Lebanon. It is true that in Lebanon, once one of the news outlets publish a certain post, all other sites seem to jump on the bandwagon and publish the same content without rephrasing or sourcing the initial site and getting away due to lack of digital copyright laws. Copying online content is a case also happening among international websites but with subtle signs of plagiarism.
I do know that once an incident occurs around the world, all news outlets will be covering that specific story. But what is actually funny is that even the type of stories that are not “happening-now” are being copied from one news site to another not only locally but even among international news.
For example, The story of the little pocket on our jeans was published on cosmopolitan.co.uk on 25 January 2016 and then the same topic circulated on News.com.au & huffingtonpost.com on 26 January, businessinsider.com on February 1, independent.co.uk on February 22.
It also didn’t take the local news in Lebanon and Arabic websites few days or hours to pick up the HOT topic and post about it. Lahamag.com published the story on 24 January, alaantv.com on January 25, mtv.com.lb on January 27, 2016.
Couple months ago, a Lebanese Blogger, Jed Ismael, made it to international news for a post he published about Instagram porn hidden under Arabic hashtags. His post never made it to local news in Lebanon back then, not even any other Arabic news site, not until his post was featured later on international news like thesun.co.uk, dailymail.co.uk, The Time of India Tech, News.com.au, International Business Times and many others.
Which shows that even when local news has topics to publish about locally, publishers aren’t really doing proper research to publish their own news but rather translating or copying stories.
I believe there’s lots of really good content that is being published locally and are worth highlighting by local news, rather than just copying/translating what publishers post around the world on a daily basis.