Holistic skills development – GulfToday

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A panel discussion is in progress at the event in Expo 2020.

Staff Reporter, Gulf Today

Badiri Education and Development Academy, the knowledge and capacity building arm of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA), has underlined its commitment to shaping women’s developmental journey and preparing them for the changing nature of the workplace by enhancing access to knowledge, capacity building and skills development.

At a roundtable organised at the Women’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, the NAMA affiliate brought together representatives from international organisations and learning providers to stimulate conversation on opening new doors for women by equipping them with upskilling and reskilling opportunities in preparation for future work requirements.

The roundtable titled, ‘Women and Future jobs: What It Takes to Succeed’, organised in partnership with Education For Employment (EFE), Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation; HSBC, LinkedIn, and Coursera, took place against the backdrop of the Global Goals Week, which was held in the UAE for the first time outside of the UN General Assembly in New York.

At the event, Badiri also reaffirmed its support to building a skilled, mobile, and tech-savvy female workforce and close digital gender gaps in the workplace through a comprehensive and integrated curriculum designed to equip females with the necessary personal and professional skills development to advance them into the future.

In her opening remarks, Dr Mona Al Ali, Manager of the Badiri Academy, stated how the Covid-19 pandemic has triggered permanent shifts in the way we work today.

Citing a recent research report, she said: “20% of women employed today will see their jobs replaced by automation by 2030 and more than 52% of these comprise jobs in the services and clerical sectors.

This means millions of people worldwide will be faced with career shifts or must retrain for new kinds of work. Developing skills that are in demand is essential to providing women the flexibility and mobility to transition to the new world of work.”

The Badiri Academy Manager added: “Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of NAMA, believes that information and knowledge should be accessible to everyone. By providing vast resources and training for women, Badiri ensures equal learning opportunities and aims to break the cycle of structural and societal barriers that prevent women’s economic empowerment and advancement in the workplace.”

Moderating the session, Dima Najim, Managing Director, Education For Employment-UAE, stated that the undeniable shift in the job market caused by the 4th Industrial Revolution and automation necessitates a new approach in addressing gender gaps in the job market. Citing ILO statistics which state that only 18% of women in the Arab world participate in the labour force, she hoped the insights and recommendations at the panel discussion would ensure a smooth transition to future jobs for the women in the MENA region.

Speaking at the roundtable,  Abdulla Al Nuaimi, Assistant Undersecretary for Communications and International Relations, Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation, said that tapping into the female talent pool is essential to drive key change across several industry sectors as diverse teams lead to more innovation, especially at a time of rapid shifts in the way businesses operate.

He said: “The pandemic has taught us that, no matter how prepared we think we are, it is only by investing in agile systems and having the flexibility to adapt quickly to disruptive change that we can ensure success.”

Al Nuaimi added: “The pandemic has advanced changes to working practices at a much faster pace than we could have anticipated, and women in particular were hit hard by these changes. The empowerment of women is at the heart of recent reforms introduced in the UAE’s labour law, which sets a framework for supporting the many roles that women play in society and will pave the way for achieving gender equality in the workplace.”

Lara Jean Chaaya, Government Partnerships Manager, Coursera, said: “Our research suggests that gender gaps in online learning narrowed during the pandemic, even as gender employment gaps widened. We are particularly encouraged by how women in the UAE are embracing online learning in the field of STEM. We strongly believe that a tight collaboration between governments, businesses and universities is helping create more opportunities for women.”

Dr. Ron Young, Founder of Knowledge Associates International group of companies, said in a virtual address, “The nature of work is changing dramatically. The future is clearly about developing effective knowledge workers, where knowledge is the key asset of an organisation, and knowledge is the key factor of production. We have also been rapidly accelerated, during these past two years, into the need for digital transformation and more effective collaborative virtual team working.

He added: “New hybrid, physical and virtual, knowledge competencies and performance management systems are emerging. But the key future demand and new employment opportunity for women will be for those that can learn to produce faster knowledge-driven results, through personal and team knowledge management systems.”

Hailing the phenomenal vision of the UAE University at Expo 2020 Dubai in shaping the ‘University of the Future’ through an innovative approach to higher education, Dominique Boulos El Azzi, Senior Sustainability Manager, Future Skills Lead – EMEA, HSBC, shed light on the growing interest in micro-credentials to map new career paths and stated how the increasing preference for the right skills over academic qualifications is reshaping hiring practices.

She said: “What is important is not the hard skills alone; transferable adaptability and resilience are soft skills required to support an individual in any profession. Within the banking sector, we are seeing the development of ‘intrapreneurial skills’, which refers to the skills and abilities an employee needs to bring innovation to take the bank of the future to the next level.”

Participating virtually, Serine Srouji, Government Alliance Partner at LinkedIn, said: “Work is changing, and workers are adapting. Women must be no exception. Our data shows a gap in women representation in most of the emerging jobs especially those related to technology. Today, we have a golden opportunity to skill, reskill and upskill women and create more opportunities for them so that employers can tap into an extensive and diverse skilled talent pool of women.”

Discussing the concept of what ‘the future’ means, she added: “If we think of the future as a time frame, we will be left behind. The future is about the way we think today; and the way we act and interact and our resilience and adaptation to these changes define the skills we need for the future

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