His Excellency Dr. Ahmad Abdullah Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills, said that the UAE will lead the advanced skills portfolio through its forward-looking approach and will be launching several projects and initiatives in to further this mandate.

Minister Belhoul spoke on this topic during the holy month of Ramadan, as part of the second season of the Dubai Future Academy’s ’Pioneer Series’, which aims to enhance the exchange of knowledge and raise the level of community awareness by reviewing innovative initiatives as identified by the Future Council.

Minister Belhoul stressed on the importance of advanced skills by discussing the relationship between people, the environment in which they live in, and the availability of necessary resources to meet their needs. He highlighted that skills development and adoption is the way by which the individual is able to harness their environment in order to improve their livelihood.

He continued the discussion by speaking about the significance of advanced skills considering the forthcoming rapid changes in the labour market due to the advanced technological trends in automation using artificial intelligence, robotics and big data analytics. He cited a number of forward-looking studies including a study by “Oxford Martin”, which anticipated the automation of 47% of jobs, and a World Economic Forum report, which indicated that 64% of today’s students will occupy new jobs that do not currently exist.

He mentioned that while these trends constitute a global challenge, they represent a unique opportunity for the UAE because of the forward-looking approach that has always enabled the country to lead in various sectors. Minister Belhoul referred to several examples in this regard, in particular; the evolution of an advanced skills portfolio in parallel with higher education, in addition to the UAE’s focus on artificial intelligence and advanced sciences, which considers the future of scientific research across different sectors.

“It is difficult to predict or identify the skills required for the future, given the rapid pace of technology development around us,” he said, “so the best solution is for the workforce to have a foundation of primary skills, a work-oriented mindset to achieve self-motivation and the constant effort to utilize resources and support available. This will enable them to continue lifelong learning of professional skills needed to keep up with labour market requirements.”

Minister Belhoul also stated that: “When discussing advanced skills; higher technical jobs and skills comes to mind, such as programming and data analysis, robotics engineering, and 3D printing in health care, but this is only a fragment of the bigger picture, where personal skills such as communication, cooperation, creativity, analytical and critical thinking, entrepreneurship and taking initiative are equally important”.

Advanced Skills in UAE

In addition to citing global examples in this field and the similarities and differences between them, Minister Belhoul reviewed the advanced skills portfolio in UAE including progress on current efforts as well as its’ future aspirations. He noted that the UAE model is based on a comprehensive approach, which holds the individual at its core, as it aims to develop future generations with flexible skills that meet the requirements of the future labor market and keep up with its pace by embedding the concept of “lifelong learning”.

He mentioned as well that the UAE model focuses on several age groups, and on several pillars concerned with developing the skills of the individual. He stressed the "educational system" as a main pillar in which the country’s aspirations are realized by teaching concepts including artificial intelligence, programming and by enhancing personal skills and developing a moral education program in public education. In addition, this will be continued in later years with the adoption of the National Strategy for Higher Education, which focuses on four main pillars: quality, efficiency, innovation and relevance. The Strategy that already bore fruit with the successful launch and activation of one of its primary initiatives; the Higher Education and Private Sector Council (HE-PSC), a forward-thinking platform that brings together more than 35 C-suite executives from globally leading private sector companies, to better align labor market needs with higher education outcomes. In its recent inaugural meeting, members of the HE-PSC committed to sourcing 50 international scholarship opportunities for higher education students and, together, attending members also committed to creating 1,000 elite internship opportunities for UAE students locally.

Minister Belhoul noted that in this context, the scholarship program has been updated and students were encouraged to diversify their choices to include countries that are advanced in innovation indexes such as Japan, China, Finland and South Korea, which have been classified as priority countries in the scholarship program. This has been furthered by the expansion of research and programs to include innovation, futurology, space science, medicine and health sciences, water resources, alternative and renewable energy, sustainability and green technology, agriculture and food systems, transportation and infrastructure, and marine and ocean sciences.

Minister Belhoul asserted that work is under way to adopt effective mechanisms to develop advanced skills in higher education students and employees in public and private sectors, with a strategy and key initiatives that will be announced in turn during the next stage. He also acknowledged that the advanced skills portfolio comes as part of our wise leadership efforts, which developed the “UAE Centennial 2071” plan to prepare a generation capable of carrying the future banner, holding the highest scientific and professional levels, and displaying moral and positive values with the long-term vision of ensuring continuity, securing the future and a better life for future generations and making UAE the best country in the world.


Source: Four Communications