EduFair Day 2 main 2
Hameed Al Obaidi, senior admissions counsellor, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Dubai; Gary Fernandes, head of prospect experience, Heriot-Watt University Dubai; Dr Kavita Shukla, associate professor and vice-president, student affairs, Amity University Dubai; and Krishnakumar C. Negade, vice-president, operations, De Montfort University Dubai, at Gulf News EduFair in Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai, on Friday. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Big data science, artificial intelligence (AI), coding, ethical hacking, robotics, data analytics, software development, logistics, health and holistic wellness — these are some of the specialisations for career options for tomorrow that universities in the UAE are preparing their students for.

On Friday, Day 2 of Gulf News EduFair 2021, university officials spoke about courses and degrees for the new world of work. They said those who can adapt to sweeping changes in the education sector — as dictated by market demand — will have better career opportunities.

Hameed Al Obaidi

Hameed Al Obaidi, senior admissions counsellor at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Dubai, said: “The skills needed today are not the same as yesterday. We (universities and students) need to keep up with the changes and be ready for the ‘new future’.”

Al Obaidi noted that RIT Dubai was preparing their students for careers in AI, robotics and data science. “There is even now a post-graduation degree in Digital Leadership,” he added.

Freelancing opportunities

Dr Kavita Shukla

Dr Kavita Shukla, associate professor and vice-president for student affairs at Amity University Dubai, noted that the job market would be more flexible in the future. “Remote work and freelancing opportunities will be higher and more young people will have the freedom to earn more money from freelancing, including more opportunities for graphic designers.”

She added: “More jobs will be created focusing on AI, cybersecurity, aerospace engineering and logistics. More data scientists will be needed and there will be a strong demand in the field of wellness and mental health,” she added.

Content creators

Krishnakumar C. Negade

Another career in high demand is creating good contents for companies. Krishnakumar C. Negade, vice-president for operations at De Montfort University Dubai, said: “Before, we were not talking about ‘influencers’, but now those who are good in creating content will sell like hot cake. Now, we also have courses on ‘business intelligence system’ and ‘data mining’. These are the catchy titles for the future. That is why we are collaborating with data mining companies to build on our course offerings,” he added.

Negade added that students should not only be good at creating content, but they should also be involved in advocacies, such as environment advocacy, sports or extra-curricular activities that will provide them with a well-rounded education.

Humans enabled by machines

As the education experts discussed how technology has fast-tracked changes in the academic sector and job market, they also said that people should not feel threatened by these innovations. “It is not humans-versus-machines, but humans enabled by machines,” commented Gary Fernandes, head of prospect experience at Heriot-Watt University Dubai. He said universities were prepared to scale up and help upskill their students.

He added that universities in the UAE were collaborating with businesses, research associations and entrepreneurs to forge cross-sector, future-focused research and learning, thereby making curricula and course offerings more impactful. “At our university, we collaborate with the UAE Ministry of Energy and a consortium of companies for our courses,” Fernandes noted.

Collaboration with companies

Dr Shukla from Amity University Dubai said academic institutions are reaching out to various companies and industries to create the right type of skill-set for the students “so they will not lose out once they graduate”.

Al Obaidi from RIT Dubai called this a Cooperative Education Internship to prepare their students for the job market.

Fernandes from Heriot-Watt University Dubai added that collaboration will bring out the best in the students. He also said students will learn the foundation skills, including interpersonal relationship, leadership and critical thinking that go beyond the academic requirements, making the students more resilient, adaptable and enterprising.

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Day 3 (August 14) sessions:

2pm-3pm: Panel discussion: How to boost your career prospects while in university.

Participating universities: University of Bolton RAK; Canadian University Dubai; Cromwell University; Curtin University Dubai.

3.30pm-4.15pm: Panel discussion: Think unusual: Offbeat careers in fast-growing sectors.

4.45pm-5.30pm: Workshop: Applying to UAE universities: Role of standardised test scores for admissions and scholarships by Score Plus.