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The Professional Persona

The Professional Persona

We live in a world where change is the only constant. The
education industry is evolving, increasing its emphasis on professional skills,
which are now in greater demand than some academic degrees. Leading
international organizations, including Google, Apple, and IBM, are placing
greater importance on employing people with professional skills and outstanding
talents, sometimes without even looking at their degrees

This approach is consistent with the nature of today's ‘Generation
Z’, those who were born alongside the growth in digital technology, excel in
the use of it, and have access to a range of opportunities to acquire new
knowledge and skillsets. This was evident by their quick adaption to remote
learning and their ability to complete the current academic year on time
despite unprecedented circumstances

Changing realities across the globe, combined with the
digital prowess of today’s generation, compelled us to devise a new plan to
prepare students for the future. What I refer to as the ‘Future Persona’ is a
list of attributes that people of the future will need to succeed. Its three
basic components are the ‘Digital Persona’, the ‘Professional Persona’, and the
‘Entrepreneurial Persona’. In previous columns discussing the ‘Future Persona’,
I devoted space to the ‘Digital Persona’, outlining how building students’
digital capabilities will enable them to become more competitive globally. The
question is when and how do we create this persona

The ‘Professional Persona’ equips students with skillsets
that are integrated into the education system, especially at the university
level. This is achieved in three ways: (1) Including international professional
certifications within curriculums, enabling students to grasp the basic
principles of these qualifications during their university studies and allowing
them to complete work experience requirements while studying or after
graduation, (2) Developing practical training programs that allow students, to
gain experience at real businesses, especially within the private sector,
enhancing their vocational skills and allowing them to experience the realities
of the labor market, and (3) Linking the educational and career ladders,
connecting the gradual acquisition of academic degrees (from diploma to
masters) to practical experience of no less than two years between each degree

Ensuring that students develop a Professional Persona will
result in higher quality graduates who are better prepared to deal with the
rigorous demands of different jobs. It will also enable them to keep pace with
the rapidly changing types of skills required globally. Today, as we face the
daunting global social and economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic,
including widespread redundancy, it is clear that we need to prepare our
students for the future. Although the job market looks set to become
increasingly competitive, those with professional skills and talents will have
better opportunities than others

Equipping our students will professional skills will
contribute to the development of the national economy, increase the efficiency
of our workforce, and ensure that graduates are prepared for jobs that do not
yet exist and the unexpected challenges ahead

Dr. Abdullatif Al Shamsi

President & CEO, Higher Colleges of Technology