UAE ranks first in MENA for overall business skills: Report

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The United Arab Emirates ranked first in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) and second globally in overall business skills, online course provider Coursera announced in its annual Global Skills Report for 2021, released on Wednesday.

The online course provider which was founded in 2012 by two Stanford Professors found that the share of its STEM course enrollments by women in the UAE increased from 33 percent (pre-pandemic) to 41 percent in 2020 and that 43 percent of its UAE-based learners were women.

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The report draws on the performance data of its 77 million learners (441,000 of which are UAE-based) since the pandemic’s onset to benchmark skills proficiency with regards to business, technology and data science across 100 countries. It aims to help governments, businesses and industry leaders to better understand the latest skill trends and their relationships to economic growth and resiliency.

Communication, entrepreneurship, leadership and management, strategy and operations were areas where UAE learners placed within the top 97 percentile or higher in business skills. These are all fundamental aspects used to accurately interpret and respond to the opportunities and challenges that determine the success of an organization.

While the UAE’s overall business skills proficiency ranked near the top of the list globally, technology and data sciences were areas that showed continued growth.

“In recent years, the UAE government has implemented numerous initiatives aimed at promoting a skills-based economy. These are having a positive impact on the economy as evidenced by the UAE’s business leadership position in our rankings,” said the institution’s vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Anthony Tattersall.

Person browsing through the Coursera app on their smartphone. (Supplied)
Person browsing through the Coursera app on their smartphone. (Supplied)

The study highlighted the country’s talent pools for technology and data science which ranked just 72 and 71 globally respectively. This indicated a significant opportunity for UAE professionals to upskill these areas especially because throughout the pandemic, the country experienced a 250 percent increase in cyberattacks, online news media CNBC reported.

“When it comes to technology and data science skills, access to a variety of job-relevant credentials, including a path to entry-level digital jobs, will be key to help reskill at scale, not just in the UAE, but worldwide,” added Tattersal.

Despite scoring in the thirty-fourth percentile for overall data science skills, UAE learners demonstrated strong capabilities in data analysis (82 percent), an area which is playing an instrumental role in business, covering streamlining processes, recognizing market trends or enhancing employee productivity.

The study attributed increased Coursera enrollments to the complex, pandemic-induced economic landscape which threatened to leave many workers ill-equipped for the sudden arrival of the digital future, which many people and industries were not ready for. It also noted that while sectors such as tourism, retail and construction were dealt a hard-hitting blow, technology and finance industries experienced positive job growth.

The pandemic was a crucial time for people to develop new skills or build on their existing ones, but it is important to also note that the unequal internet access created greater inconsistences and unfavorable disruptions to the lives of many.

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