UAE: Summit seeks to bridge cross-sector gaps, create opportunities for youth
Experts say young people want schools and universities to prepare them for changing job markets.
The UAE is putting education at the forefront with the aim of offering specialised training for youth to build their skills, the UAE Minister of Education said at a summit in Abu Dhabi.
During his keynote speech at the Youth Preparedness and Knowledge Economy Summit on Monday, Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi said: “The recently announced ‘Projects of the 50’ plan by the UAE Government puts the focus on education, specialised training and building youth skills as a national priority to supply the labour market with competencies by relying on the private sector as a major national partner in the development process.”
The minister also emphasised the essential role of innovation and creativity for all academic disciplines.
“The Ministry of Education has been developing curricula that promote the concept of creativity and innovation, as well as provide an environment that encourages students to communicate and evolve,” Al Hammadi said.
The two-day summit, held at the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Authorities building on Al Maryah Island, focused on developing a road map to bridge cross-sector gaps and create innovation, technology and research and development opportunities for the country’s youth.
Hamad Sayah Al Mazrouei, chief operating officer of ADGM and managing director of the ADGM Academy, said: “Youths have an enormous role to play when it comes to the nation’s transition to a knowledge-based digital economy."
"This summit is our effort to bring intellectual minds together to shape an era of smart future and a capable young generation where they are co-creators and co-drivers to sustain the change.”
Reskilling is vital as new technologies are adopted
As new technologies emerge, Dr Mubarak Al Shamsi, director-general of Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (ACTVET), said thousands of Emiratis are likely to lose their jobs if they don't upskill.
“Upskilling is very important to equip youngsters with relevant practical skills that will enable them to be competitive and stay in jobs,” he said during his presentation on the 'Future of Learning and Skills'.
The Future of Jobs Report 2020 revealed that 50 per cent of employees will also need reskilling by 2025 as more technologies are adopted, Al Shamsi said.
“The report also showed that in the next five years, critical thinking and problem solving top the list of skills that will grow in prominence,” Al Shamsi said.
A recent study conducted in the UAE involving 8,000 people, including ministers, academic directors, teachers, students, parents and others, revealed that mathematics skills are poor, Al Shamsi added.
Consequently, students’ ability in mathematics and computing subjects are inefficient for the development of artificial intelligence (AI) or a knowledge-based economy.
“The research findings also showed that teachers in the UAE were not competent enough to contribute to the 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution) and AI, stemming from a lack of targeted specific and appropriate skills during the recruitment process,” Al Shamsi said.
Further, he highlighted that the digital resources provided to students were insufficient because they were damaged, broken or out-of-date.
Young people want more from their education
Mariet Westermann, vice chancellor at NYU Abu Dhabi, said in her presentation titled ‘Educating for the Future’ that young people are concerned about insufficient mental health services and want more from their education.
“They want universities to prepare them for changing job markets, prepare them to help address challenges like global warming and inequality, and they want universities to build ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) and SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) into their curricula and leadership training,” she said.
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