UAE ranks first in Mena and second globally for workforce business skills

The Emirates' talent pool leads in skills such as communication, leadership and human resources, report finds

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The UAE has been ranked second globally for the business skills of its workforce, according to a report by US online education company Coursera.

The country ranked highly in terms of specific business skills such as communication, leadership and management, human resources, strategy and operations, and entrepreneurship, the Global Skills Report 2023, which assessed the skills of more than 124 million learners in 100 countries over the past year, said.

In terms of overall skills, the UAE was the highest-placed country in the Middle East and North Africa region and 32nd globally.

Switzerland, Spain and Germany were the top three countries in terms of overall skills, according to Coursera.

“Learners in the UAE are increasingly investing in professional certificates to prepare for digital jobs, with 97 per cent of UAE students agreeing that professional certificates would help them obtain employment after graduation. Data science marks the largest area of opportunity,” Coursera said in the report.

“National leaders can invest further in data science skills.”

The UAE has been investing in building a knowledge-based economy as it set sights on greater economic diversification.

The government’s expansion of its ten-year golden visa is aimed at providing incentives for professionals to move to the UAE, as well as promoting the development of skills among the country's existing high-calibre talent pool.

California-based Coursera was founded in 2012 by two Stanford University computer science professors, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller. The company provides online courses through partnerships with more than 200 universities and industry players.

In the UAE, Coursera provides services to the Ministry of Health and Prevention, Abu Dhabi School of Government, Abu Dhabi’s Department of Government Support and Khalifa University through access to online courses from the world’s top universities, equipping people with the skills needed in a workplace that is being transformed by emerging technology.

UAE Salary Guide 2023 – in pictures

About one in four jobs is expected to change in the next five years as generative artificial intelligence “comes of age”, creating and destroying millions of jobs in the process, according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report released last month.

The fastest-growing jobs are for those who specialise — whether in AI, machine learning, security or sustainability, according to the WEF report.

For technology and data science skills, the UAE’s talent pool was ranked 58th and 77th, respectively, in the world, Coursera said.

Learners in the UAE achieved cutting-edge scores in technology skills such as computer networking, security engineering, software engineering. However, they lagged in skills such as computer programming, mobile development and web development, according to the Coursera report.

Learners in the Emirates also scored competitively in data science skills such as data visualisation and mathematics, have limited skills in areas like data analysis, data management, and probability and statistics, while they lagged in machine learning skills, the report found.

Compared with their peers in other countries, learners in the UAE are more likely to invest in leadership skills such as people development, negotiation and leadership development, and design skills like computer graphic techniques, graphic design, and interactive design, the Coursera findings revealed.

About 42 per cent of UAE learners are women, while 45 per cent study on a mobile device, Coursera said.

In total, Coursera has 800,000 registered learners in the UAE, with an average age of about 35.

“Digital transformation, automation and globalisation are reshaping the labour market and creating an unprecedented need for reskilling and upskilling,” Jeff Maggioncalda, chief executive of Coursera, said.

“Generative AI intensifies this urgency, posing a threat to a new class of knowledge workers.”

The Mena region is strongest in business skills, but there is room for further investment in developing technology and data science skills, the report recommended.

Learners in high-income countries are more likely to invest in skills that cannot easily be automated, such as project management, change management, and collaboration, while learners in middle-income countries are more likely to invest in digital skills such as software architecture, mobile development and programming principles, Coursera said.

The report also found that learners with a postgraduate degree are more likely to learn AI-related skills, such as artificial neural networks, applied machine learning and computer vision, than those with less education.

Europe leads the global skill rankings with eight of the top 10 countries. The remaining two are Indonesia and Japan.

European learners excel in business skills, while those in Latin America and the Caribbean lead in technology and data science, according to Coursera.

The US slipped to 78th globally for its overall skills proficiency from 29th last year. Learners in the world’s biggest economy performed best in business skills, the Coursera report showed.

  • Learners in the UAE rank #1 for overall skills in Mena
  • UAE ranks #1 globall for communication skills
  • UAE ranks #2 globally in business skills
  • UAE ranks #2 globally for both leadership and management, and human resources skills

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Updated: June 28, 2023, 6:45 AM