Soft skills with technology, need of the hour

Soft skills with technology, need of the hour
Mohammad Abdullah, Managing Director, Dubai International Academic City and Dubai Knowledge Park

Education has to be streamlined to meet the needs of the future Education has to be streamlined to meet the needs of the future


Suchitra Steven Samuel

Published: Sun 30 Sep 2018, 5:39 PM

Last updated: Sun 30 Sep 2018, 7:42 PM

"Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) follows Dubai's Smart Initiative that involves technology, both digital and IT infrastructure. An important aspect is that not only DIAC but academic institutions are moving towards the vision of the Government of Dubai regarding the disciplines offered," says Mohammad Abdullah, Managing Director, Dubai International Academic City and Dubai Knowledge Park, in an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times.
"There are many fields of study that the future workforce would require, for example, transportation and logistics, hospitality and tourism, artificial intelligence, entrepreneurship and renewable energy, which are all in demand right now. Universities should be able to align with the government strategy, not only for the Expo 2020 but also beyond," he adds.
Abdullah highlights the example of a British university in Dubai that offers a Digital Block Chain degree in response to Dubai's Block Chain initiative. "Other universities like Heriot-Watt University and Amity University are offering specific degree courses in sustainability and solar studies," he notes.
Abdullah informs that when it comes to services and facilities, there is the Promethean Whiteboard that can transfer whatever the teacher writes on the board onto the laptop, which allows students to have digital convenience. "Another aspect is education without borders. Many universities are implementing the smart approach to teaching. For example, BITS Pilani has classrooms connected to four or five campuses in India. Students can sit in Dubai and talk to one of the professors in Pilani or anywhere in India," he adds.
Today, innovation is part of life. The best way to encourage innovation is through students and universities promoting out-of-the-box thinking. "In TECOM Group, which is the mother company, we have an initiative that was launched a few years back which is called In5. In5 is a sort of an incubation where we attract new ideas. At the same time, we offer the space, the place and the equipment. For example, in innovation in media, we have editing suites, studios, and graphic design equipment to support ideas. At the same time, we provide them with mentorship, contacts and connections with possible investors who might be interested in investing in these ideas," Abdullah informs.
Currently, there are three In5 centres; one is in ICT, Dubai Internet City, one is In5 Media, in Dubai Production City, and one is In5 Design which is in Dubai Design District. "So, we try to work with them in terms of introducing students to these incubators, because many ideas come from this," says Abdullah.
"What we noticed from our academic partners, universities and educational institutions is that there is a buzz concerning new trends such as robotics and drones. Many universities are working to develop the disciplines, the curriculum to cater to innovation that is coming up in different industries. Innovation is tied to entrepreneurship," he adds.
The Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI), of which Mohammad Abdullah is President, is one such University that places innovation at the core of its curriculum.
"Launched in collaboration with MIT, DIDI recognised the urgent need for an academic institution in Dubai that responds to the demands of both the design industry and also the innovation vision of the Government and wider UAE."
Studies have revealed that employers today do not stress on the academic degree of students. Notes Abdullah, "They look at the soft skills of students. So, universities need to develop soft skills such as how graduates can work in a team, how they can think out-of-the-box and how they can have leadership skills to handle responsibility."
The MD says that DIAC is working with the Dubai Economic Department to encourage entrepreneurship, for example, creating awareness about e-trading. "Many students may be thinking of businesses that they want to do online, so collaboration between DIAC and the government department is essential in terms of encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship," he concludes.

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