12,000-plus International Professional Certificates Awarded to HCT Students
The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) has awarded its students 12,412 internationally accredited professional certificates, linked to the institution’s six program majors, enhancing their future employment prospects.
HCT’s dual qualification system commenced in 2016, as part of its HCT 2.0 Strategy, whereby it linked the academic programs with international professional certificates, through global partnerships. The aim of this duality was to enable HCT graduates to gain professional skills that enhance their employability in the labor market.
Dr. Abdullatif AlShamsi, HCT President & CEO, said that HCT started in October 2016 to incorporate professional certificates into its academic curriculum so as to enhance the quality of its applied-based education, linking it to international skill-based professionalism. Currently, due to partnerships with 22 international awarding bodies, all HCT’s academic programs are linked with international professional certificates.
He said that the dual qualification initiative was borne from the belief that professional skills have become increasingly competitive with academic degrees, coupled with students needing 4th Industrial Revolution skills to help them cope with career changes.
Dr. AlShamsi noted that, in light of the 4th Industrial Revolution and the major advancements in technology and Artificial Intelligence, which affect the job market through the disappearance of many jobs and the emergence of new automation-driven jobs, educational institutions are facing a major challenge in preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist. “It is therefore important to empower students with the skills of the 4th Industrial Revolution to be ready to work in an evolving and changing environment,” Dr. AlShamsi said.
As a result of the initiative, two “HCT 4.0 generation” cohorts, consisting of 5,569 graduates, have graduated with both academic degrees and professional certificates, granted by international awarding bodies. Each of those graduates has acquired at least one professional certificate in their respective program majors, resulting in a total of 12,412 internationally accredited professional certificates being obtained by current students.
Dr. Al Shamsi said that global challenges over the past two years, in addition to those of the 4th Industrial Revolution, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have justified HCT’s strategies to qualify students with up-to-date, future-proof skills. In turn, those skills have helped students succeed in remote, or online, studies and to overcome any challenges and obstacles encountered in their educational journeys.
Professionalism supports employment
Fahad AlZarooni, Aviation Engineering graduate from the HCT class of 2019-2020, said that the HCT's commitment to applied learning provided students with specialized professional certificates. He added that HCT facilitating students’ participation in exhibitions and events was a factor in him obtaining a job one month after graduation, as they provide opportunities of indirect job interviews for students and networking.
Mr. AlZarooni added that in addition to the academic studies, the practical aspect of the Aviation Engineering program and the opportunity to study the Civil Aviation Authority’s requirements, including training, qualification and examinations, greatly contributed to his professional readiness. Added to this skill-set was Mr. AlZarooni receiving a professional certificate in security and safety from the UK-based Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), which qualified him to work on maintenance lines in factories.
Fatima Al Hammadi, a 2020 HCT graduate in Security and Forensics, said she now has increased interest in acquiring professional certificates because of the importance of these certificates in the labor market. She added that during her studies she obtained a number of professional certificates in Information Technology, including the CCNA Routing and Switching certification and IBM Blockchain Developer Mastery Open Badge.
She added that she had an added advantage over other applicants during job interviews because of her academic credentials and her professional certificates, noting that employers valued them highly while some of her colleagues received job opportunities based on their professional certificates.