Lebanon has been hit by one of the world’s worst economic crises, experiencing ~ 95% currency devaluation and almost 200% inflation since early 2020. Lebanon’s competitive economy is stalling, with important consequences on economic growth and employment. Several outsourcing opportunities are arising such as freelance work, and international firms having their shared services operated from Lebanon. Outsourcing is a powerful tool to address the issue of workforce shortages in Lebanon allowing the markets in demand to access the skills talent. If outsourcing is adopted in Lebanon at a large scale, it can support enhancing economic growth amid the crisis.
Under the name of “Transforming Lebanon into a hub”, today Lebanon is well positioned to supply talent in six areas: customer relationship management services; software/ applications development and integration; engineering design and consulting services; marketing services; business consulting and market research services; telemedicine and remote education, according to a new report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in collaboration with Forward MENA, previously known as Beirut Digital District (BDD) Academy.
The report, titled “MENA Talent Map”, finds that today, Lebanon offers various Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Information Technology Outsourcing (ITO) and Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) services, serving entities both within Lebanon and abroad. Approximately 5,000 employees are now employed in BPO and ITO outsourcing sectors and an estimated 200 companies currently operate in such activities. A number of well-known companies also operate in KPO services, offering engineering design, management consulting, market research, and creative services through marketing, media, and more.
“Holding a highly qualified, multilingual, and cost-competitive labor force, Lebanon has great potential to become a competitive talent supply hub for offshore work. Already numerous job matching platforms are connecting local talent with local, regional, and even global companies. Strategically located close to well-known regional and global demand hotspots in the GCC, Lebanon also holds cost-competitive labor by comparison, marked at nearly 27% lower than GCC countries,” said Dr. Leila Hoteit, Managing Director and Senior Partner, BCG.
Throughout the study, five key pillars were assessed to identify Lebanon’s value proposition and competitive advantages in the establishment of a successful job outsourcing talent ecosystem.
Five Pillars for a Successful Outsourcing Talent Ecosystem
1. Labor availability and qualifications: that includes language proficiency, and labor cost.
2. Market Environment: political stability, economic stability, proximity to demand hotspots, and cultural similarity with demand hotspots.
3. Infrastructure: telecom infrastructure readiness, digital maturity levels, as well as access to working stations equipped for remote work.
4. Regulatory landscape: tax exemptions and incentives for businesses, availability of special economic zones, and data and IP protection laws next to regulations governing job outsourcing.
5. Talent skilling, upskilling and re-skilling landscape: across government, private sector and not-for-profit institutions.
Lebanon’s Pillars of Wisdom
Lebanon holds one of the top educational systems in the region and is home to world-class universities. In terms of talent skilling, upskilling, and re-skilling landscape, Lebanon holds one of the highest concentrations of private training institutions per capita in any MENA country. Not-for-profit also run multiple initiatives across key capabilities, including digital. The sustained training and competitive education all contribute to Lebanon ranking 5th out of 134 countries in ease of finding skilled employees.
Despite its situation, Lebanon shows promise for higher digital maturity levels in the years to come, marking a high growth potential for building a tech-savvy talent pool.
“Overall, despite having faced one of the hardest financial crisis, Lebanon offers many cross-cutting advantages for outsourcing businesses to benefit from amidst the post pandemic gig economy growth. This growth could be achieved by targeting services within job clusters and sub-clusters that are missing in the focus countries. Some of these key clusters currently include: customer relationship management and document processing services; software/ applications development and integration; and marketing and design services,” said Mouhamad Rabah, President of Forward MENA.
“Lebanon has great potential to evolve into a talent supply hub for outsourcing jobs, mainly driven by its highly qualified, language proficient, and cost competitive labor force. However, key challenges need to be addressed for outsourcing to reach its full potential as political, economic risks and new taxation policies could threaten the country’s outsourcing prospects on the long term,” concluded Rabah.
BCG collaborated with Forward MENA previously known as Beirut Digital District (BDD) Academy to examine the growth of remote work ecosystems in six developing countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA): Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia.
Learn more about the regional findings here.
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About Forward MENA
Forward MENA is a non-profit organization committed to empowering people from all backgrounds to fulfill the digital jobs of today and tomorrow.
It is the ultimate guide for a successful career, connecting young people to educational and training programs to upskill or reskill their digital knowledge and integrate into the job market with ease.