UAE: Workers learn digital skills in Friday classes

Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on June 2, 2021
Blue-collar workers attend a class of Build my Dreams programme. — Supplied photo

In a new initiative, workers attend classes that will develop their English language skills and introduce them to new technologies

Workers in Dubai now have an opportunity to learn digital skills — from writing for social media to coding and artificial intelligence — in a new initiative launched by education tech company Coded Minds.

Coded Minds has rolled out a year-long course called ‘Build my Dreams’, a programme accredited by the emirate’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). Workers will have to pay only Dh83 per month for a year to attend classes that will develop their English language skills and introduce them to new technologies like artificial intelligence and coding.

The goal, the group said, is to help workers keep up with the latest tech developments, maximise their potential, and support them in charting out new career paths.

One security guard from Kenya, for example, is now taking classes in creative writing and digital marketing.

“He has a postgraduate degree in English literature. Although he wanted to become a journalist, he could not pursue his dream due to financial issues at home. We have enrolled him in creative writing and digital marketing course so that even while he is doing his duty as security guard, he can try his hand at creative writing and social media journalism by freelancing,” said Amna Khaishgi, global managing director at Coded Minds.

Every Friday, Coded Minds’ teachers and mentors visit workers’ accommodations and spend three to four hours engaging them in different classes. The group has started its pilot classes at compounds in Dubai Investment Park.

Omar Farooqui, founder and executive chairman at Coded Minds, said the initiative was a step to help workers ‘transform themselves’.

“Learning in all age groups should be fun and must stimulate critical thinking. It should not only upgrade the skills of individuals but also develop students’ intellectual capabilities. This is our commitment to workers to help them achieve their goals and dreams in their lives,” Farooqui said.

In an era where robots are starting to take over manual work, a need to upskill blue-collar workers arises.

Khaishgi said: “To avoid losing their jobs to machines, workers need to upgrade and learn technology-based skills. Most of these workers are the sole breadwinners of their families. More often than not, they don’t have the time and resources to upskill themselves. As a result, a young man who arrives in Dubai as a mason is likely to remain a mason for the rest of his professional life. He does not have the opportunity to learn extra skills and empower himself to earn more and have career growth.”

This is the scenario the group is trying to address, she added. “It is not just about upgrading one’s skills; it is also learning other ways of the world that makes a person intellectual and spiritually more mature and empowered.”

Coded Minds is also extending support to the families of the registered workers, offering to cover the education of their children in countries, where the group’s teams are stationed. Farooqui said: “Workers who are away from their families are not in a position to supervise their children’s education. Hence, we will bring education to their doorsteps of their families. The workers will be able to supervise their children’s educational performance and know about their learning achievements.”

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