Lebanon Digital Transformation Conference 2018 kicked off today under the High Patronage of His Excellency, The President of the Lebanese Republic, General Michel Aoun and The Minister of State for Administrative Reform, Her Excellency, Dr. Inaya Ezzeddine to present the strategy and path to transition to a digital e-government.
The conference hosted Tom Loosemore, Co-Founder of Digital Government UK. Tom led the successful implementation in digitally transforming the government. He also emphasized the role of local talent in Lebanon to achieving that.
Digital transformation in Lebanon will help save time and fight corruption in the public sector. Lebanese will no longer have to wait in long queues to complete a simple document and will no longer have to pay “extra money” to get their basic documents done. All official documents and applications will be completed from one platform and a unified user-experience.
The adoption of Lebanon Digital Transformation raises questions about cyber security including “safeguarding & securing data” and “data privacy” across systems, and devices. Especially in the absence of any current “internet laws” that are clearly set for cases around online activities, electronic communication and privacy protection.
It was just yesterday when a Former Head of ISF Anti-Cybercrime was involved in fabricating evidence against a Lebanese citizen. And couple months earlier, a government website collected sensitive data from Lebanese living abroad for the elections without any privacy protection.
It’s about time that our government takes solid steps towards digital transformation in Lebanon. It’s definitely a great initiative that will revolutionize the public sector if applied.
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.
The TechWadi Roadshow Powered by Google for Entrepreneurs came to Beirut, Lebanon for the first time on October 24 -25, 2015.
TechWadi RoadShow was developed in partnership with Google for Entrepreneurs (GFE) a division of Google designed to support entrepreneurial ecosystems as an opportunity to expand outreach to the MENA region.
The “TechWadi Roadshow” consisted of two day-long educational workshops led by TechWadi and powered by Google for Entrepreneurs that brought experienced entrepreneurs, investors, and stakeholders straight from Silicon Valley to mentor local startups in Beirut.
The mentors included seasoned professionals from companies like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, as well as founders of various Silicon Valley startups. The event took place in UK Lebanon TechHub, the local host and partner who worked with additional ecosystem partners to accommodate as many entrepreneurs as possible.
The event kicked off with Daniel Navarro, Marketing Manager at Google for Entrepreneurs (GFE) & Christina Ashtary, Program Manager at TechWadi, who welcomed the attendees and introduced TechWadi Organization and it’s dedication to building bridges between Silicon Valley and the MENA region in partnership with GFE.
The event consisted of multiple sessions that provided engaging presentations discussing entrepreneurship, market development phases, startups and investments in the MENA region allowing attendees to learn from established experts including Sherif Badawi, a serial entrepreneur and technology executive, who currently serves as a partner to VCs and startups at Google, Ramy Adeeb, Founder & CEO, Snip.it (Acquired by Yahoo!), Walid Hanna, Managing director at MEVP and many more.
Day 2 was exclusively limited to a selected group of partners startups and entrepreneurs and focused on tailored mentorship meetings and design thinking workshops.
Attendees shared their excitement during the event by live-tweeting speaker quotes and photos of the event on social media using the following hashtag:
Hadafi, the women entrepreneurship program launched in 2013 is a FREE development program that provides female entrepreneurs with expert training & consultancy, financial support, entrepreneurial coaching and, of course, lots of priceless media exposure.
The program is directed towards women, aged 18 years and above, located in the MENA region with a scalable business idea, a startup or a newly established business.
Hadafi provides multiple awards for the winners including:
- Cash prizes,
- Being featured on “UN Women”,
- Invitation to “AllWorld Network Summit” at Harvard
- Coaching from “Girls in Tech”
- Access to the “Ahead of the Curve” training program
- A Booth in one of “Mompreneurs Bazaars“
- Training by Arab “ArabWomenPreneurs”
- Special Offer from “Eureeca- Crowdfunding “
Potential, Hadafi founders, just announced the launch of its fifth season. Participating in the program requires 3 simple steps:
The program is offered in collaboration with multiple strategic partners such as MBC TV, Pepsico and Ministry of Youth in Kuwait in addition to multiple regional and local partners such as Girls in Tech, Embassy of the United States in Kuwait, AllWorld Network, Eureeca, Arab Womenpreneur, In5, Flat6lab and many more.
Check out this video recap of the previous season:
Hadafi is a great program for all women out there with innovative ideas. Make sure to register & give your business the head start it deserves!
For the first time in the MENA region, Intel announced on August 10, 2015 the launch of Challenge ME! An IoT (Internet of Things) competition in collaboration with reputable educational institutions and non-profit entrepreneurship across the Middle East and North Africa.
If you have a start-up idea or you’re an entrepreneur developing technologies for the Internet of Things (IoT) market, make sure to sign up and submit your prototype before the closing date of the submission on October 22nd. The project idea should be aimed at developing or using new technology trends within the areas of the Internet of Things (IoT) with great business potential, such as: Drones, Wearable Products, Smart Homes/Cities, Automotive, Aerospace….
Experts from Intel corporation and the business community will assess the submitted projects based on two major areas; Innovative aspects of the IoT Technology Components and the attractiveness and scalability of the Business Model. Shortlisted projects will be invited to travel to Beirut in November 2015 for the final pitching with a chance to win over $15,000 in prizes and an opportunity to attend the Intel Innovation Summit in UK.
Eligibility: Participants must be above 18 years old and located in the MENA region: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Intel will also be conducting a series of webinars to assist participants and answer any questions regarding the submission process. Webinar Details