Quotas and AI reshaping insurers’ talent management in Africa and the Middle East
Market Insight 03 January 2024 03 January 2024
Predictions 2024 - People Challenges
As fossil fuel-rich economies transition to cleaner technologies, they will need to upskill their populations in growth areas.
The development of new digital technologies and the diversification of fossil fuel-rich economies away from oil and coal will have a major impact on the shape of talent management in this region. That economic diversification is particularly keenly felt here due to the preponderance of oil-rich states in the Gulf.
In Saudi Arabia, there’s talk of an ongoing initiative to Saudize professions. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), there exist strict targets to ensure that 5% of an insurer’s workforce are UAE nationals, with that figure increasing annually to a maximum of 35–40%.
Saudi Arabia also has stringent quotas. The Saudis monitor their unemployment statistics closely and if they detect a large number of recent graduates in a sector out of work, they introduce a quota arrangement in that sector. Engineering was one of the first professions to be subjected to this regime; customer care, financial services and dentistry all followed.
These quotas are rigidly enforced. For an insurer, failure to comply can lead to serious penalties. But even when faced with stringent targets, many insurers are adopting a longer-term strategy when recruiting and retaining staff. Remuneration is certainly a factor in this but, in this region, government roles are likely to pay more. So, career opportunities, training and development and the potential to travel internationally are all leveraged.
The growth in digital technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) are one of the drivers behind this approach. Fossil fuel-rich economies with large ex-pat professional communities want to ensure that the necessary skills and knowledge are disseminated within their indigenous population. As their economies move to cleaner technologies, the explosion of AI-based opportunities will be central to future growth and productivity.
But AI is doing more than driving quotas. Advanced technologies including AI and data analytics are being incorporated into the recruitment process itself. These tools streamline candidate screening, match skills with job requirements, and predict future performance, enhancing the efficiency of talent acquisition. The challenge for insurers is to ensure that no bias exists within the data used to educate the algorithms.