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How higher education in digitalisation and research can stimulate innovation in the UAE

How higher education in digitalisation and research can stimulate innovation in the UAE

Countries and companies can continue to be pioneering only if they pay more attention to their role in education

Human capital is the world’s most prized resource – an almost infinite resource, if we are capable of developing it to its full potential. The globalisation of trade and commerce since the late 1980s has led in parallel to that of the labour market in order to meet the huge and ever-increasing demands of emerging economies.

Today, a digitised market for higher education has developed, driven by a brand-new standard where schools and universities need to work harder than ever to attract and engage the best students.

This competition has become increasingly intense with the digital revolution and the rise of Industry 4.0.

Countries and businesses around the world seek to attract those who have the highest potential – specifically those in the fields of artificial intelligence, big data, connectivity, and cyber security amongst others. However, to truly be a leader of cutting-edge innovation, it is the training that counts.

Recognising the role of education in building a knowledge-driven economy, the UAE has developed the National Strategy for Higher Education 2030. This strategy seeks to provide future generations with the necessary technical and practical skills to drive the economy in both public and private sectors. The aim is to prepare a generation of professionals to sustain growth in vital areas such as knowledge and entrepreneurship.

Industry, innovation and education are at the forefront of this revolution. Furthermore, whilst education leads to innovation, the result of invested training is often prosperity, whether this is at an individual, company-wide, or nationwide level. Now, as we navigate through the current global health crisis, our investment in human capital needs to evolve and strengthen with a view to drive success.

Countries and companies can continue to be pioneering only if they pay more attention to their role in education.

To protect the right to education and gainful experience, even during a global pandemic like Covid-19, institutes have also had to adapt quickly. Whilst they have done this by introducing e-learning, companies have integrated online mentorship programmes. This is one of the ways that companies can remain innovative – boosting education by collaborating with academic ecosystems around the world.

This is often ingrained in the nation’s overarching socio-economic vision. The UAE and France share a vision for a digital future strengthened with Industry 4.0. Partnerships such as the one that Thales’ has with Sorbonne University of Abu Dhabi for the creation of an industrial chair in the field of Artificial Intelligence and the establishment of Mohamed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) to further develop these competencies in the UAE are true reflections of this common vision.

Knowledge exchange between governments and large companies is another widely used method. We know that training and mentorship programmes allow interns to build on their skills through hands-on experience in emerging technologies and prepares them for future employment. However, these can only work if they are long-term collaborations to ensure well-rounded socio-economic development of a country.

An example of this in action is Sustain and Enhance Emiratisation in Defence and Security – also known as the SEEDS programme. This is the latest sustainable education initiative of the UAE defence and security industry enabler Tawazun Economic Council.

It aims to offer international companies the chance to meet their business and recruitment objectives through job placement programmes for homegrown talent. And just as importantly, it ensures students are given the opportunity to shine in an industry they are really passionate about. A win-win strategy.

One thing is for sure, an ongoing global digital transformation will require upcoming generations to possess more extensive scientific and technological skills than ever before. As tech companies are full of curious, inventive and very well-trained talent, they must be ever more involved and committed to creating a new age of continuous enlightenment, through education and collective research, for a better future.

Bernard Roux is the CEO at Thales UAE

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