Coursera’s Education Forum discusses the transformative role of micro-credentials in shaping UAE’s job market

Under the patronage of the UAE’s Ministry of Education and the National Qualifications Authority, Coursera, one of the world’s largest online learning platforms, recently hosted the inaugural edition of its education forum, “Credentials that Matter: Microcredentials as Pathways to Career Success”, in Dubai.

The event brought together leaders from government entities, academic institutions, and businesses, including the Ministry of Education, the National Qualifications Authority, the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA), Ajman University, and McKinsey, to explore the key tenets of the new era of work and their impact on skills and education.

With a strong market and rising foreign direct investment, the UAE job market is set to boom in the coming years. Companies are actively seeking top talent, and the qualification benchmark for recruitment is rapidly changing. Entry-level candidates are now expected to have job-relevant skills and hands-on experience. Coursera’s recent study further supports this trend, revealing that 77% of employers believe a Professional Certificate would enhance a candidate’s job application.

Kais Zribi, Coursera’s General Manager for the Middle East and Africa stressed the need for academic institutions to adopt innovative methods and technologies, equipping students for job prospects and sustained career growth in an increasingly digital world.

“It is admirable how the UAE is addressing the digital divide by continuously upgrading its education system and preparing the next generation of talent to compete in the modern workplace. Cross-collaboration will continue to play a critical role in addressing the scope and size of the skills gap in the country, and as a company that has been invested in realizing the UAE’s vision of a digital economy, we aim to be at the forefront of it,” Zribi added.

The forum highlighted how universities are leveraging online learning and microcredentials to equip students with future-ready skills, enhance employability, and create accelerated pathways to high-paying jobs. It underscored that while talent strategy is a priority for institutions, upskilling faculty members is equally important as they play a vital role in students’ learning journey.

Business leaders present at the event expressed support for the incorporation of online learning and microcredentials at universities. They emphasized that learning should not stop at university but should continue in the workplace. The region and the world at large are witnessing a significant shift in business operations, and ensuring employees possess the necessary soft and digital skills is crucial for success. Industry experts also stressed the importance of fostering a workplace culture that promotes continuous learning, recognizing online learning as a powerful tool for acquiring new skills and maintaining a competitive edge.

The Coursera Education Forum also underlined the pressing need for institutions to embrace the transformative potential of microcredentials and online learning. Organizations are encouraged to seize this opportunity and leverage these innovative methods to upskill and reskill students and employees, preparing them for the ever-changing landscape of education and work.

Coursera has been a torchbearer of microcredentials globally and in the region. In fact, 4 out of its top 10 most popular online courses in 2022 were Professional Certificates by Google, as 83% of UAE learners believe that in the next five years, skills certifications from tech giants will be just as valued by certain employers as traditional degrees.

The Coursera Education Forum further demonstrated the company’s commitment to supporting the long-term transformation of the education and job sector in the UAE through thought leadership and strategic cross-sector collaborations. As of March 2023, Coursera supports the skills development of over 7.6 million learners across the Middle East and North Africa (29% YoY growth), with 820,000 learners in the UAE alone (28% YoY growth).

About Coursera:

Coursera was launched in 2012 by two Stanford Computer Science professors, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, with a mission to provide universal access to world-class learning. It is now one of the largest online learning platforms in the world, with more than 124 million registered learners as of March 31, 2023. Coursera partners with 300+ leading university and industry partners to offer a broad catalog of content and credentials, including courses, Specializations, Professional Certificates, Guided Projects, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Institutions around the world use Coursera to upskill and reskill their employees, citizens, and students in fields such as data science, technology, and business. Coursera became a B Corp in February 2021.