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According to Coursera’s Global Skills Report 2021, the UAE ranks #1 in the MENA region and #2 globally in overall business skills, only after Luxemburg. This year’s study draws on performance data since the pandemic’s onset from more than 77 million learners on the platform to benchmark skills proficiency across business, technology, and data science for over 100 countries.
Communication, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Management, and Strategy and Operations are areas where UAE learners have placed within the top 97 percentile or higher in business skills. These proficiencies are fundamental to accurately interpret and respond to the opportunities and challenges that determine an organization’s success.
While UAE’s overall business skills proficiency ranks near the top of the list globally, technology and data science skills represent areas for continued growth. With the UAE government’s prioritisation of digital transformation as a driver of national development and economic advancement, the Global Skills Report highlights a significant opportunity for UAE professionals to upskill in these fields — the country’s talent pools for technology and data science skills ranked just #72 and #71 respectively.
“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 Anthony Tattersall, Coursera Vice President of EMEA, “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”.
It was, however, promising to see an increase in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) course enrollments – which account for many foundational digital skills – by women in the UAE. The share of STEM enrollments from women in the UAE rose from 33 percent in 2018-19 to 41 percent in 2019-20.
Another notable outlier in the overall technology skills performance of the country was its competitiveness in Security Engineering, where the UAE ranked in the 77 percentile. With the country witnessing a 250% increase in cyberattacks through the pandemic, there has been a strong emphasis on attracting and developing cybersecurity skills within the UAE, which helps explain this high ranking.
Similarly, despite scoring in just the 34 percentile in overall data science skills, UAE learners have demonstrated strong capabilities in the highly-valued area of Data Analysis (82 percent), which is increasingly playing a part in everything from streamlining business processes and enhancing employee productivity, to recognising market trends, and adapting to customer behaviours and preferences.
Based on the performance data of millions of learners on Coursera globally, the report also reveals the skills and time required to prepare for entry-level roles:
- Recent graduates and mid-career changers can develop entry-level, digital job skills in as little as 35 to 70 hours (or 1-2 months with 10 learning hours per week). On the other hand, someone with no degree or technology experience can be job-ready in 80 to 240 hours (or 2-6 months with 10 learning hours per week).
- Learners must invest in both soft and technical skills to stay job-relevant in a rapidly evolving labour market. For example, an entry-level cloud computing role like a Computer Support Specialist requires learning both soft skills like problem solving and organizational development, and technical skills such as security engineering and computer networking. Similarly, entry-level marketing roles require data analysis software and digital marketing skills in addition to soft skills like strategy, creativity, and communication.
- The most transferable skills across all future jobs are in human skills like problem solving and communication, computer literacy, and career management. Foundational skills like business communication and digital literacy enable workers to participate in increasingly tech-heavy and global work environments. As people change jobs more frequently, job search and career planning skills will be critical to role transitions and sustaining employment.