As early as May 2020, when the catastrophic and far reaching effects of the pandemic were just beginning to make themselves known to an unsuspecting world, global advisory consultants Deloitte released a news report mentioning how investing in resilience to counter the threat of uncertain futures would be critical in the near future. More than three years later, as the world emerges from the throes of Covid to face a future ripe for change, the subjects of resilience and the future job market maybe synonymous, but still require explaining for some.
Resilience as a pillar
In Deloitte's words, aA system that invests not just in workers’ near-term skill needs but also in workers’ long-term resilience can help build long-term organisational resilience in a world where the only constant is change. Professor Cody Paris, Deputy Director Academic Planning & Research, Head of the Business School, Middlesex University Dubai, aligns with the thought shared by Deloitte's consultants, even as he explains how Middlesex University Dubai is helping students prepare for the future workplace. And resilience is a pillar that he founds his responses upon.
“Middlesex University Dubai recognises the most critical skill students need to thrive in the global job market is resilience,” says Prof. Paris. “Accordingly, we constantly implement global best practices in our teaching and learning environment to foster this vital attribute.
“Another pillar of our strategy to future-proof our graduates’ careers is by introducing cutting-edge programmes that are at the forefront of industry developments. For example, our latest undergraduate programme, the BSc Honours Business Computing and Data Analytics, will be introduced this year to create graduates who will navigate the opportunities and challenges businesses will face as a result of technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
“Our latest Master’s degree, the MSc Clinical Health Psychology and Wellbeing, will have its graduates address the challenges of improving mental health and wellbeing, which have taken centre-stage globally post COVID-19. We have also launched an innovative Master’s in Law, the LLM Legal Practice (SQE Pathway), which will appeal to professionals who wish to qualify as solicitors and prepare for the mandatory Solicitors’ Qualifying Examinations (SQE).
“Our students have access to various opportunities to gain real-world transferable skills, such as internships, volunteering, research projects, and industry competitions, driven by industry collaborations such as our behavioural science research partnership with APCO Worldwide.”
Elsewhere, at Canadian University Dubai (CUD), resilience also translates to hands-on experience in the fields of work that would drive future global economies.
Make it hands-on
Dr Salih Rashid Majeed, Assistant Professor, CUD is elated, for instance while mentioning the university’s recent engineering project, which grabbed headlines in regional media.
“A multidisciplinary team of students collaborated to design and manufacture a solar-powered autonomous car,” says Dr Majeed while speaking to GN Focus. “This capstone project exemplifies sustainability in urban transportation. The students have become equipped with valuable interpersonal skills and technical expertise. The practical application of their theoretical knowledge to this real-world project is remarkable and life-changing for their futures. The project facilitated a deeper understanding of the true essence of engineering and the significance of interdisciplinary teamwork, adaptability and innovative thinking among the students.”
Through similar initiatives such as the engineering graduation project, as well as innovative initiatives, software and AI proficiency, CUD believes it is preparing its students well for future job opportunities.
The success of the engineering project also demonstrates CUD's commitment to cultivating sustainable transportation solutions and enhancing the students' portfolio by equipping them with the skills needed for the jobs of the future. “These ambitious initiatives empower graduates to excel in and network with high-tech industries by equipping them with practical skills through real-world application,” says Dr Majeed.
Universities also seek a perfect symbiosis of academics and practical research to allow students as well as staff develop an understanding of what the future requires of higher education institutions today.
Professor Hossam Hamdy, Chancellor, Gulf Medical University (GMU), believes that at the institution, a perfect integration of academics, research and clinical training is helping equip students with the skills necessary to excel in the healthcare workforce.
“Some of the key initiatives such as the Nafis Scholarship programme and partnership with the University of London's International Foundation Program have been introduced in this regard,” reveals Prof. Hamdy.
Elaborating further, he says, “By collaborating with the Nafis programme, GMU aims to support the UAE's vision of Emiratisation in the private sector and meet the growing demand for skilled healthcare professionals. The scholarships not only cover financial support but also offer coaching, professional training, mentoring services, and counseling to help the students thrive in their chosen health profession careers.
“Additionally, GMU, as the sole partnered centre in the UAE, offers the University of London's International Foundation Program (Medical) to prepare students for science-focused undergraduate degrees. The full-time nine-month programme ensures a strong foundation in subjects like biology, chemistry, and mathematics, enriching students' academic journey.”
In fact, with the September intake around the corner, UAE’s premier universities have lined up new initiatives as well as courses that are aligned to the interests of students looking to future-proof their careers.
New in September
Speaking to GN Focus, Mohammad Meraj, Head of Academic Professional Services and Quality, Lecturer in Business, Middlesex University Dubai, highlights some of the new initiatives and focus areas by the university starting this September.
“Our focus areas for the September 2023 intake and beyond include continuing to provide an immersive learning experience for all and enhancing our curriculum to meet industry and employer demand, ensuring our students are 100 per cent employable,” says Meraj. “We’re expecting to welcome our largest intake to date, and we couldn’t be more excited to have them join us on campus.
"Many of our facilities are undergoing enhancements over the summer period, so students will have access to even more state-of-the-art labs, classrooms, study spaces and networking zones throughout our campus. We’re also launching several new initiatives for the September intake, such as the MDX Innovation Hub, which will work to cultivate a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation throughout the student community.”
GMU, on its part is equally committed to exploring new focus areas with a host of initiatives including the aforementioned Nafis programme, says Prof. Hamdy.
“GMU is making significant strides in healthcare education and workforce development. The university is tied up with the Nafis programme and focused on enhancing Emirati participation, thus, GMU is launching the Dental Assistant program in September, followed by the Pharmacy Technician programme. These initiatives not only create opportunities for Emiratis but also strengthen the healthcare system.”
The Thumbay Institute of AI in Healthcare, an integral part of GMU, is also set to introduce comprehensive AI-focused certificate programs, aligning with the UAE Ministry of Education guidelines, reveals Prof. Hamdy. This empowers students to craft AI solutions tailored for the healthcare industry, reflecting the university’s commitment to advanced education.
“In addition, GMU’s partnership with the University of London offers the International Foundation Program (Medical), preparing students for science-focused undergraduate degrees. This unique programme not only covers essential subjects like biology and chemistry but also provides specialised training for BMAT and UCAT exams, crucial for dental and medical programs worldwide.”
GMU's approach, says Prof. Hamdy sets it apart by enabling A-level assessments, offering students a well-rounded education and increased admission opportunities in premier global universities. The admissions, it's hoped are just the passwords students require to ensure career safety and be prepped for the future workplace.