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Mapping the Future Workforce Through Education

Education is the backbone of any society, and the UAE is no exception.

Education is the backbone of any society, and the UAE is no exception. With the pace of technological advancement and changing economic trends, the UAE needs to equip its future workforce with the necessary skills to thrive in the years to come. As explained by C.S. Lewis, "The task of modern education is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts."

The World Economic Forum has raised the need for a global framework for shifting learning content and experiences towards the need of the future, and has coined it Education 4.0. The pillars of the framework include fostering global citizenship skills, innovation and creativity skills, technology skills and interpersonal skills. This is well reflected in the he UAE Future of Learning 2022 Survey conducted by Citizens School as it  provides valuable insights into the essential skills, technologies, and subjects that parents in the UAE consider vital for their children's future achievements.

School curriculums have evolved over time, but there are still many areas that need improvement. In many cases, curriculums are still heavily focused on traditional academic subjects and memorisation of facts, rather than developing the critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills that are becoming increasingly important in today's rapidly changing world. Moreover, the needs and expectations of students and society are changing rapidly, and schools must be able to adapt their curriculums to meet these changing needs.

The survey results indicate that the UAE's education system needs to focus on cultivating a more holistic set of skills. While digital literacy is crucial, soft skills such as mental wellbeing, social responsibility, and creative thinking are equally essential. The ability to take exams and tests ranked low on the list of skills deemed necessary for future success, suggesting that memorization and rote learning should no longer be the primary focus of education.

Additionally, it has been made clear that schools need to do more to prepare students for the digital world. Artificial intelligence/virtual reality, crypto, metaverse, blockchain, and NFTs were the top five technologies chosen by parents as the ones that will have the most significant impact on their children's future success. Yet less than half of the parents surveyed believe that their child's education and learning experience is preparing them for these technologies. This suggests that schools need to incorporate these technologies into the curriculum and ensure that students are prepared for the digital world that they will inherit. Moreover, the survey findings show that parents want their children to learn skills such as decision-making, public speaking, money management, self-care, and entrepreneurship. This aligns with the findings of the KHDA’s future of education study, which emphasizes the importance of innovation, and thus entrepreneurship and creativity, in the context of the workplace of the future. These soft skills are essential to thriving in the future workforce and need to be incorporated into the curriculum.

To future-proof the education system, schools need to adopt a more rounded approach to education that focuses on developing both hard and soft skills. This includes incorporating new technologies, teaching soft skills, and ensuring that the curriculum is relevant to the needs of the future workforce. Schools need to reimagine the traditional classroom and embrace new and innovative ways of teaching that can engage students and prepare them for the future.

In conclusion, the UAE needs to focus on equipping its future workforce with a more holistic set of skills that go beyond digital literacy. Soft skills such as mental wellbeing, social responsibility, and creative thinking are crucial to thriving in the future workforce. Research into the sector can help provide valuable insights that allow us to shape the future of education in the UAE and beyond. By adopting a more holistic approach to education, schools can ensure that students are well-equipped to succeed in the present and future.

Written by: By Dr. Adil Alzarooni, Founder, Citizens School