Future-proofing the youth to develop skills for a new age

Globally, the energy sector is projected to create 24 million clean economy jobs by 2030

A man and a woman intercat with a robot at Oracle’s booth during Gitex Technology Week at Dubai World Trade Center.

(Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)

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As digitalisation continues to grow in significance in more aspects of our daily lives, young people will need to develop a skillset that not only enables them to handle smart technologies but also equips them to adapt to the ever-changing demands of the workplace of the future

We stand at the cusp of a digital revolution and when we cross over we will have handed more control to technology than ever before. Artificial Intelligence and automation are already making their presence felt and going by current trends their use is only going to increase in the years ahead. Global spend on AI is expected to be $7.3 billion (Dh26.8bn) in 2022 from $2bn in 2018, which goes to show the promise it holds for the future.

As the world prepares to enter a tech-dominated future, we see great opportunity ahead. The UAE, too, is embracing these developments and going forward we will continue to invest in new-age technologies and digital avenues.

Technology is a great enabler, especially at this juncture when the world is crumbling under so many pressures. It is a pathway to sustainability because of the high level of efficiency it brings in its wake, but, like everything else, technology has a downside. Many fear more automation could result in job losses in several fields where technology will compete for jobs earlier assigned to humans. How do we solve this conundrum? While we need technology to be in step with the fast-moving world, we also need to ensure our youth have employment opportunities in the future.

In order to survive the onslaught of technology, we will have to prepare to work with it. My advice would be to take technology in your stride and use it to your advantage. Acquiring the right skillset is the way forward because if some jobs are expected to be totally eliminated, several others will be created. So, there will be enough opportunity for those who seek it. What we need to understand is that the jobs of the future will be different from the conventional jobs we have today. We need to reimagine the workplace and make our education future-proof by focusing on flexibility and adaptability.

Our youth needs to build a skillset that will help them adapt to the changing needs of the workforce in the new decade. They will be required to upskill and reskill from time to time and be prepared to learn on the job. While educational background will stay relevant, developing soft skills and continuously adapting and learning will hold the key to survival in the future workplace. Creativity and innovation and complex problem-solving skills will be in great demand, as will ecological ethos and emotional intelligence.

We are heading towards an era of innovation and entrepreneurship and the UAE will be extending all of the support possible for its youth to make the most of the opportunities available to them.

When we think future, we think AI, robotics and big data analytics as top trends. An expertise in these fields will be needed for jobs of the future. Virtual reality and augmented reality are expected to disrupt workplaces and they will create more jobs across industries, especially in gaming, media and entertainment. VR and AR professionals will be in demand in the coming years. Machine learning and the Internet of Things will drive the change with greater human and machine interaction.

As the world comes together to mitigate the threat of climate change, we see greater traction towards low carbon economies with more renewables and less coal. Sustainability is yet another trend that will be discussed more extensively in days to come. The energy sector is evolving and is slated to undergo several changes over the next three decades in line with the UAE Energy Strategy 2050. Our youth need to be trained to handle jobs in alternative energy, with sustainable energy goals in mind.

As resources become scarce and we gravitate more towards renewables, new revenue streams and job opportunities will emerge. Globally, the energy sector is projected to create 24 million clean economy jobs by 2030. The new global mandate to limit emissions will have a radical impact on many industries and the way they operate. New technologies are transforming the way resources are consumed and produced, It’s no secret that higher efficiency also results in lower consumption of energy.

Yet another trend for future workplaces is the formation of ‘gig’ economies, leading to more temporary roles and freelance assignments. Again, with better connectivity, these business models will transcend physical boundaries and more and more people will be working remotely. These models will also require technological aptitude and new work skills like adaptation and flexibility, so young people need to be prepared for such roles.

If, on the one hand, jobs and resources are becoming scarce, on the other alternative occupations and energy sources are also being created. The onus lies on youth to tap into these alternative streams to ensure job security and better quality of life in the future.

Awaidha Murshed Al Marar is chairman of Abu Dhabi Department of Energy