AIWF Chairman delivers Keynote Address at the ULC Thought Leadership Series Roundtable on ‘Upskilling and Reskilling’ to ensure a sustainable future for youth

AIWF Chairman delivers Keynote Address at the ULC Thought Leadership Series Roundtable on ‘Upskilling and Reskilling’ to ensure a sustainable future for youth 5 November 2020

AIWF Chairman Haifa Al Kaylani addressed the University Leadership Council’s Thought Leadership Series held virtually on 05 November, during a key session titled Up-skilling and Re-Skilling: Ensuring a Sustainable Future for our Youth. Distinguished participants on the Roundtable panel alongside Mrs Al Kaylani included Rola Abu Manneh, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Bank; HE Professor Ghaleb Ali Al Hadrami, Acting Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs & Provost, United Arab Emirates University; Professor Silvia Serrano, Vice Chancellor, Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi; Thierry Dupont, Managing Director, Dassault Systemes; and Anass Derraz, Director of Strategy and Development, Saur.

In her Keynote, Mrs Al Kaylani shared AIWF’s initiatives and global outreach to ensure a more sustainable future for the youth of our region through viable employment, education and civic engagement. She said: “The UAE has truly led the way in the region and globally on mitigating future of work challenges through world-class investment in skills, education, entrepreneurship and sustainability innovation. Now is the time for much-needed skills investment to empower a future-ready workforce, across the whole MENA region. Improving the quality of education, addressing the school-to-work transition, and enhancing relevance of education by fostering closer links between academia and the private sector has been a longstanding call of AIWF and a recurring recommendation to emerge from many of our recent initiatives.” Mrs Al Kaylani continued: “The region must come together to strengthen policy, legal and institutional frameworks for women’s economic participation and job creation specifically for young people – these could include implementing labour market policies that encourage and incentivise youth employment, drive youth entrepreneurship especially in the tech sectors and in social enterprise and cooperatives.”

“In the future MENA labour market, workers will be expected to have the necessary skills to navigate this digitalised workplace as well to acquire the ‘soft skills’ that employers in the private sector increasingly require, including empathy, problem solving, and effective communication. This applies equally to older workers as well as new graduates and new labour market entrants. As the Covid crisis is contained in the future and workers return to the labour market, we will see older workers potentially struggle to adapt if their old jobs no longer exist and new jobs require skills that they have not acquired in the pre-Covid era. Now is the optimum time to bridge the gap between universities and the private sector to ensure that graduates are well-equipped and fully-skilled to navigate new jobs in new sectors that may not even exist yet.”

Mrs Al Kaylani also shared key learnings as a Board Member of the Harvard Women’s Leadership Board, where she is very active in supporting the next generation of women leaders through Harvard’s Women and Public Policy Program, a research center of Harvard Kennedy School that specialises in rigorous, high impact gender research. She also shared reflections on the transformational year spent at Harvard in 2017 as a Fellow of the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative, as well as her role as a Commissioner of the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work.

The Roundtable event was organised by the University Leadership Council in the UAE, led by HE Nada Mourtada, Secretary General of the ULC which under Dr Mourtada’s inspirational leadership and under the Honorary Chairmanship of His Highness Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, brings together the leading institutions of higher learning in the UAE. The Roundtable was supported and moderated by Standard Chartered Bank, which is doing excellent work in the Emirates to support the UAE’s 2021 Vision to create a diversified knowledge-based economy to ensure long-term prosperity powered by skilled Emiratis and world-class talent. AIWF congratulates the ULC on an exceptional event and looks forward to working closely with all partners to action the strategies presented during the Roundtable.