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Technology is not a threat for jobs in UAE

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on November 12, 2018 | Last updated on November 12, 2018 at 06.54 am
Sheikh Mohammed, accompanied by Sheikh Hamdan, Sheikh Maktoum and Sheikh Ahmed, meeting Borge Brende at the World Economic Forum conference in Dubai on Sunday.

(Wam)

Key topics discussed at World Economic Forum in Dubai.

GCC youth don't get jobs because they are not equipped with the right kind of skills and relying on degrees and diplomas, experts said at the World Economic Forum conference in Dubai on Sunday.

"Skills will become the main currency of the labour market. Generally, people assume that if they have got a degree from the right kind of university that somehow translates into a job. That is often not true. If Gulf countries want true meritocracy in the labour market, they need to switch to skill-based currency as opposed to relying on degree and diplomas. We need to look at both emerging jobs and emerging skills," said Saadia Zahidi, head of the Centre for the New Economy and Society at the WEF, during a panel discussion.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, inaugurated the event in Dubai on Sunday. He also received WEF president Borge Brende during the third annual meeting of the Global Future Councils.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai; Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai; and Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, also attended the opening ceremony.

"Advanced technologies and sciences are shaping the future. In the UAE, we are keen to harness advanced technologies to enhance the progress of humanity," Sheikh Mohammed said.

"We are proud of the UAE's contribution to humanity's journey of progress, and its transition to a future driven by new advanced technologies. We are working hard to equip future generations with the skills that will be required in the future. Hosting the annual meeting of the Global Future Councils is part of our vision for enhancing the UAE's contributions to improving the conditions of human society. It reflects our aspirations and our constant efforts to ensure the best possible future for our people," he said.

Zahidi said some parts of unemployment in the Gulf region are structural unemployment. In other cases, the young people who are seeking jobs might have a job on paper that matches with their supposed degree. But the reason they don't get it is because they don't have right kind of skills - they don't know how to work as a team, how to present themselves, how to conduct in a workplace and don't have great marketing skills for themselves or for the company they are joining.

"There are a number of these 'software skills' - critical thinking, analytical thinking and active listening - which are often missing in the education system of the region whether it is kindergarten level, primary, secondary or university. So there is a need for reforms," she told Khaleej Times during an interview on the sidelines of the forum.

She pointed out that jobs related to software and application developer, analysts, data analysts, sales and marketing professionals, general operational managers, sales representatives, financial analysts, human resource specialists, assembly and factory workers and financial and investment advisors will be demand over the next four years.

These are the kinds of roles that are coming up but they are not all technology-specific roles.

Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, emphasised that innovators and entrepreneurs create more jobs than they destroy.

"They are the job-creation engine. In the countries with high employments, the huge majority of jobs come from the private sector. We need robust education to deliver what people need. We need excellent infrastructure as most of it is crumbling. We need government to support basic research," he said.

He said there are a one million layoffs a month in the US as the country doesn't face quantity job problem but quality job problem. "We need to teach critical thinking but we don't know how to do it."

Speaking during the panel discussion, Mariana Mazzucato, professor of economics of innovation and public value, University College London, said that the hoarding of capital is affecting the job market. "When you have $2 trillion in the US and $2 trillion in Europe in hoarding that hurts jobs market," she said.

- waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com


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