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As the fast pace of technology overwhelms traditional job profiles and even begins to make some redundant, the churn is also helping establish a new order with several novel and unique job profiles emerging. All this activity in the jobs market is not going unnoticed, especially in the education sector.

As crucibles credited with creating workers for the future workplace, universities and institutions of higher learning globally are working against the clock with teams confiding, ideating discussing and even collaborating to put together unique courses that could help create the super workforce required to make organisations succeed tomorrow.

Respond to new specialities

Professor Evangelos Moustakas, Professor in Digital Marketing and Executive Director of Lifelong Learning and Continuing Education at Heriot-Watt University Dubai, believes the premier institution’s programmes are designed to respond to new specialties and to the way that various fields are merging.

Professor Evangelos Moustakas

“This is translated across our degree entry programmes, undergraduate and postgraduate curricula as well as research programmes,” says the professor. For example, as the field of robotics brings together electronics, computer software and mechanics, our undergraduate programmes include a Bachelor of Engineering in Robotics, Autonomous and Interactive Systems.

“Additionally, in response to the increasing role of technology and analytics in digital marketing, we offer an MSc in Digital Leadership, which aims to integrate technology with business management to address organisational challenges, improve digital brand awareness and understand consumer behaviour through digital touchpoints. Our programmes also cater to new roles that are becoming essential in today’s job market, by offering postgraduate degrees such as an MSc in Artificial Intelligence and an MSc in Network Security.”

Hanil Das

For Hanil Das, Co-Founder and CEO, Westford University College, being prepped for the future workplace is not just about accumulating academic knowledge, believing it is the prerogative of every educational institution to instill and cultivate critical thinking and adaptability on the job among students and to nurture a sense of curiosity that helps groom innovative reasoning.

Holistic learning is key

“Our holistic approach to education combines cutting-edge curriculum, experiential learning, and industry collaborations to cultivate these essential qualities,” says Das. “Through a blend of academic excellence, real-world exposure, and personalised mentorship, Westford College empowers students to thrive in a rapidly evolving professional landscape. We are committed to shaping individuals who can drive innovation, navigate complexity, and contribute meaningfully to the global workforce, making Westford College the perfect platform for building a future-ready workforce.”

Professor Ghassan Aouad, Chancellor, Abu Dhabi University (ADU) is in sync with Das’ reasoning in that holistic learning is the way to go. “ADU recognises the holistic development of students, valuing extracurricular activities, such as clubs, societies, internships, and sports, as crucial components in building well-rounded skill sets. These activities arm students with real-world experiences and the adaptability required for a competitive job market. However, Prof. Aouad is also of the view that a firm strategy is required to prep students for the future workplace.

Professor Ghassan Aouad

“ADU is proactively preparing its students for the future job market, employing a comprehensive strategy that blends rigorous practical training and theoretical education while fostering essential graduate attributes,” says Prof. Aouad. “Irrespective of the academic discipline, ADU ensures graduates possess vital employability skills, seamlessly integrating technology proficiency, and familiarity with artificial intelligence into the curriculum.

In fact, a significant milestone in ADU's commitment to innovation was the establishment of the first academic quantum lab in Abu Dhabi, achieved in collaboration with the Vernewell Group. This pioneering lab at the College of Engineering functions as a collaborative hub, where students, researchers, and experts delve into quantum technologies, exploring cutting-edge domains like quantum encryption, optimisations, and quantum blockchain. “The initiative underlines ADU's dedication to equipping students for the dynamic technology-driven landscape of the future,” says Prof. Aouad.

Furthermore, ADU provides crucial support to students through free preparatory courses, including the ADU National Summer University Physics Prep Course and the ADU National Summer IELTS Prep Course. These courses, along with the free EmSAT Prep Course, empower high school students with a robust foundation, ensuring a smooth transition to university life and setting them up for a successful academic journey.

Equipping next-gen world leaders

At the American University of Sharjah (AUS), the scope for adapting to the future workplace takes on a whole new level. Mentioning how universities serve as powerful institutions for knowledge, innovation and global transformation, Dr Mohamed El-Tarhuni, Interim Provost and Chief Academic Officer, AUS, says, “At AUS, we recognise our responsibility to remain aligned with scientific discoveries and evolving industry dynamics, so we continue to upgrade our academic offerings and introduce new programmes.

Dr Mohamed El-Tarhuni

“In Fall 2023, we are launching our Master of Arts in International Studies, designed to equip the next generation of world leaders to meet contemporary global challenges. Earlier this year, we upgraded our undergraduate engineering offerings by integrating key topics of data analytics, artificial intelligence, entrepreneurship, sustainability and advanced technology. In response to the escalating demand for healthcare talent in the region, we recently introduced a PhD in Biosciences and Bioengineering. Furthermore, we are starting Korean language courses in Fall 2023.”

As universities in the UAE prep for the September intake, the challenges ahead for faculty and management to prep wards for the future workplaces are many. However, scholars such as Dr James Trotter, Dean and Academic President Murdoch University Dubai, believes challenges ought to be embraced to ensure the outcome is positive.

Dr James Trotter

Charting transformative journeys

“The September intake is the biggest academic intake for Murdoch University Dubai,” says Dr Trotter, continuing, “We consider this intake to be an exciting opportunity to extend the Murdoch family, welcoming more aspiring minds into our community. Striving to maintain the quality of education and support services amidst growth is a challenge we eagerly embrace. We are committed to nurturing our students’ dreams, igniting their passions, and empowering them to unleash their greatness as they embark on this transformative academic journey with us.”