Professor Ammar Kaka, Provost and Vice Principal, Heriot-Watt University, Dubai

Professor Ammar Kaka is the Provost of Heriot-Watt University Dubai Campus. Within Heriot-Watt University, he holds the position of Vice-Principal and the Professor of Construction Economics and Management. In 2008 he was also allocated the title the William Watson Chair of Building Engineering.  Professor Kaka’s contribution to the transnational education in general and to Dubai’s education hub, in particular, has been immense. With a student population of 4000 and a growing research culture, the Dubai campus is currently recognised as one of UK’s leading provider of transnational education.

 

With the vaccine for COVID-19 now being rolled out, I expect that by mid-2021 we will see the start of a global economic recovery. Travel will start to pick up as people are anxious to start to travel again for both business as well as pleasure.

Closer to home, the Expo in Dubai will play a significant role as a large-scale key global event that will kickstart the economy post the pandemic. It will also be an opportunity for the world to showcase what business and society, in general, will look like in the new normal.

As the economy recovers, we can look forward to job creation. Demand for the right talent and skills will be high. Workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic should prepare for economic recovery and use this time to invest in themselves through upskilling and reskilling. This is especially important as we expect the job market to be more competitive than ever before, and those seeking fresh employment will have to compete with young and new talent. Therefore, the onus is on these job seekers to demonstrate they have the energy, mindset and relevant skills. Experience alone will not be enough.

Higher Education (HE) will be more important than ever before in order to fulfil this need for upskilling, and job seekers should consider investing in degrees and programmes that help them with this. For example, Heriot-Watt University Dubai now offers postgraduate programmes in Data Science, Artificial Intelligence and Managing Innovation, all of which have been launched in response to requirements of the job market. In 2021, HE also needs to work with industry, forming partnerships and working together to identify common challenges and come up with solutions either through knowledge transfer, research or talent development.

Finally, upskilling will be required of all leaders in organisations to enable them to take advantage of opportunities created by the pandemic and shape businesses for the future. This applies to all industries including higher education and will help us come up with best practices on how to operate in a post-COVID world.

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