We live today in a world that has been revolutionized by technology, in which the Internet, cloud computing, virtual reality, big data, 3D printing, the internet of things, artificial intelligence and social media have transformed every facet of our lives whether economic, cultural or social through creating many different exciting opportunities as well as challenges.
According to McKinsey Global Institute up to 800 million global workers will be replaced by robots and AI by 2030 affecting up to one-fifth of the global work force. 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist. Another study undertaken by Oxford University indicated that 47% of jobs will disappear in the next 25 Years. At the same time, this also implies that many new jobs will be created and that the skills required to perform most jobs will be shifting significantly in the next few years requiring a re-skilling and up-skilling of the workforce. According to the World Economic Forum’s Report on the Future of Jobs, 2018 an estimate of no less than 54% of all employees will require significant reskilling and upskilling. Of these, about 35% are expected to require additional training of up to six months, 9% will require reskilling lasting six to 12 months, while 10% will require additional skills training of more than a year.
Thus, in an era marked by rapid advances in technology, automation and artificial intelligence; the key questions remain on the role of the ‘future university’, how well are universities responding to these rapid changes, and is our educational system preparing future graduate for this rapidly changing world.
As technology continues to advance, the higher education sector will continue to be significantly affected. For Universities to remain relevant to this changing landscape and be able to educate for the fourth and future industrial revolutions there is a need to align our strategies to counter these disruptions and meet future expectations. Universities should effectively and efficiently embrace modern technologies and pedagogical innovation. However, this does not stop at only adopting technology for more effective teaching and learning; but rather demands for structural innovation in the entire higher education ecosystem including the need for a revamped regulatory system that is conducive to these changes and that promotes responsiveness and flexibility.
Our education systems, and curricula need to become more agile and flexible to respond to the myriad demands of ever-evolving technologies; higher education will need to move beyond the traditional boundaries of the classroom to recognize various types of learning: formal, non-formal and prior learning. Faculty members and teaching staff should also work on upgrading their pedagogical skills and competencies to address the requirements for a new set of skills which must be taught, facilitated and assessed to promote life learning opportunities among learners. Our learning environment needs to be expanded to involve the community and society at large and to embrace practical work experience.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution has been widely addressed at various venues such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos and within business leadership but still requires a lot of consideration in the field of education and higher education in specific. It is time for the Higher Education community both regionally and globally to seriously broaden the conversation about how we can reshape the educational ecosystem into an adaptable, flexible and relevant environment to ensure that our younger generations are agile, can adapt to future changes and have the means to pursue lifelong learning and acquire the necessary skills and competencies that will be needed in the future. Thus, was the theme of the 4th MENA Higher Education Leadership Forum selected for 2020. The Forum theme will also address through its various activities and submissions of case studies four sub-themes as follow: