Adaptability and creativity are, reportedly, the key to staying relevant in the face of technology development, according to panelists at the second annual Education for Employment Conference held at the American University in Dubai last week.
“Machines will be faster, and do things, in a way, smarter. What machines don’t do- they’re never going to be creative…now is the time to be creative,” Andrey Dvoychenekov, managing director of Nielsen for Arabian Peninsula & Pakistan, said.
“The profile of the students we’re looking at today is different that in the past; we’re looking for open-minded, creative people, and not necessarily with the perfect academic background,” Remi Chadapaux, managing director at L’Oreal, said.
The topic of “disruptive” technology, and whether its development will affect jobs, was also a focus of the discussions at the event.
The managing director of Nielsen for Arabian Peninsula & Pakistan said that the development of technology and AI will likely make some jobs obsolete, but will also create new ones. He gave the example of the invention of the car, and Fordism — many lost their jobs, but it created a new system that benefited the masses.
“Every technology since the creation of the wheel was ‘disruptive’, so I don’t think we should overestimate the impact of today’s technology — it’s just a natural evolution,” said Yves Manghardt, CEO of Nestle Middle East. “If we want to remain relevant, we have to adapt to the changes. It’s nothing extraordinary, it’s just the next, logical step of what has started centuries ago.”
“There is an exponentiality of the development of technology, but in the same way, you have an exponential adaptability of people,” Mr. Manghardt said.
Viola Weber, Assistant Professor of Psychology at AUD, asked what the workplace was offering, in terms of flexibility.
“It’s part of our employability strategy,” said Mr. Chadapaux, of L’Oreal. “We want to create the best context for our employees because that’s the only way they will blossom, be more innovative, and creative. So, we’re definitely working on flexible work. The comfort of our employees is correlated to their success. We need to give the the opportunity to blossom.”
When it comes to the educational system, “we need to make sure we are adapting as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Imad Hoballah, Provost of the American University in Dubai. “We have become entrepreneurs ourselves. We have to bridge the gap between industry and education, and make sure the students are happy, and prepared. They have the hard skills, but above all, they have the soft skills.”
“We live in a culture that says ‘don’t do this’, ‘don’t do that’, which is against everything we need to do. Students need to think outside of the box, have a proper thinking process, collaborate with others etc..Universities have to adopt new thinking models that don’t only focus on hard skills, but critical thinking, analytical skills, and other forms of innovation,” added Dr. Hoballah.