Five university degrees that will be vital in a post-Covid-19 world

Labour market will require more graduates in tech, IT and sciences post-pandemic, say experts

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Pupils are being encouraged to consider their university degrees carefully to ensure a flourishing career in a post-Covid-19 world.

The labour market worldwide, like most other sectors, was heavily affected by the pandemic. Recruiters told The National job-seekers would have to upskill or embrace the gig economy to keep a steady income.

Now, experts in higher education are advising pupils to prepare for a post-virus labour market, which could see another transformation.

The National has compiled a list of five university degrees that could be in-demand after the pandemic. The list is based on comments provided by Hale Education, an education consultancy group in Dubai, and Heriot-Watt University in Dubai.

1. Public Health

The Covid-19 outbreak has shed light on some of the strongest and weakest healthcare systems worldwide. University degrees that offer a versatile role in the health and science fields are going to be sought after more than ever as jobs in these areas experience growth.

“This is an interdisciplinary programme which usually has two tracks: one for students that want to focus on the hard sciences and attend medical school, and one for students interested in epidemiology, statistics, policy, and social sciences,” said Peter Davos, founder of Hale Education.

“It focuses on addressing systemic and chronic public health problems, such as diabetes to obesity, to access to quality care, and even hospital organisation and administration.”

2. Data Science

This is already one of the most popular university majors in the United States and is picking up demand in the UAE.

Data science is an interdisciplinary field that is a mix of computer science, mathematics and problem solving.

Stephen Gill, head for the school of mathematical and computer sciences at Heriot-Watt University, said skill requirements naturally change when there is an increased usage of technology. In this case, data science is a direct result of the fourth industrial revolution.

“Between 2015 and 2018, there has been almost a 100 per cent increase in job postings with ‘AI’ or ‘machine learning’ tags. Similarly, we are now observing a huge demand for, and a noticeable shortage of qualified data scientists,” said Mr Gill.

A report from the World Economic Forum said 50 per cent of all employees will need reskilling by 2025, as adoption of technology increases.

"With technology today transforming every aspect of our daily lives, career opportunities in these fields are on the rise," said Mr Gill.

"While there are several options to choose from, students in general will cultivate skills that will be applicable to the vast majority of jobs, such as creative thinking, problem solving and negotiation.”

3. Cyber security

The cyber security market will be worth $363.05 billion in 2025, according to research consultancy group Mordor Intelligence. The market is expected to grow at an annual growth rate of 14.5 per cent over the next five years.

With the world moving to all things digital, governments and the public are eager to protect themselves against cyber-attacks.

“The global cost of cybercrime is expected to reach $11.4Million per minute in 2021,” said Mr Davos. “The US government suffered its largest and most serious cyber-attack on its government only days ago and cyber security majors have never been in greater demand.”

It was reported widely this week that hackers spent several months hacking into the systems of government agencies, US treasury and departments of homeland security, state and defence.

4. Biotechnology

As the name suggests, this field includes all technology based on biology. Humans have been using biotechnology for decades. It involves using living organisms to make products, such as bread and cheese.

But, with the advancement of technology, biotech is being used in more and more fields, including genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, medicine and therapies, agriculture (modified plants and biofuels) and industrial biotech.

It can also play an important role in the development of vaccines.

Researchers involved in vaccine development for Covid-19 said it may require annual booster shots as the variants of the virus emerge. Biotechnology is likely to be a much sought after degree for years to come.

5. Immunology

This study of the immune system could not be more relevant as the world grapples with the current pandemic.

Immunologists work to diagnose, manage and treat conditions such as allergies, asthma and immunodeficiency. They often use their clinical experience to research and test new treatments as well as finding a way to boost immunity among specific, vulnerable groups.

The work of an immunologist will always be needed, pandemic or not.

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