COVID-19

GulfNews UAE

COVID-19: Are you willing to take up any job in the UAE?

UAE|: Dubai: Call it coincidence or a response to the challenging times amid the pandemic, jobseekers in the UAE are increasingly scouting for opportunities outside their traditional fields of work, changing the job market dynamics, employment services and HR professionals have said. See more Dubai Metro turns 11 years old today McLaren 620R MSO R Pack available to Middle East customers Model diplomacy: UAE, Israeli flags at photoshoot in Dubai Aston Martin DBX will arrive in the Middle East in October While some candidates in this widening pool of talent are willing to settle for any role at any salary in order to stay afloat, others are keen to reskill themselves to be able to cut through the clutter. And as online courses to upgrade skills see a huge uptake, the changing scenario has also resulted in an unlikely boom of freelancers, recruiters said. Will any job do? Aws Ismail, general manager of recruitment firm Marc Ellis, said, “We have seen a higher number of applicants from different sectors asking us for jobs in any industry or field. The candidates that used to apply for jobs in relation to their experience are now also open to considering any opportunity from any employer that would take them to avoid being out of work for too long.” Candidates who once applied for jobs in relation to their experience are now also open to considering any opportunity Image Credit: Stock image. For illustrative purpose only He said in many cases, employers are either rejecting their profiles or offering lower salaries on the basis they are not skilled for the role. “The most common jobs where people without relevant skillsets are being hired is in hospitality. This trend has only been noticed from lesser skilled candidates. Unfortunately, the problem with this is that employers do not usually want to hire anyone that isn’t fitting the requirements needed for the job, and so it is very difficult for those candidates to secure the jobs they are applying for.” He said the Marc Ellis Training Academy has noticed an increase in participants who are keen to reskill or upskill themselves within the demands of the current market, most specifically in the digital space, like Robotics Process Automation (RPA), Data Science and Scrum. What are the sectors in demand? According to LinkedIn, the trend is reflective of a global phenomenon. Ali Matar, head of LinkedIn EMEA Emerging Markets, Middle East & Africa, told Gulf News, “Job markets across the world were among the strongest indicators of the repercussions of the global pandemic crisis. The recreation, hospitality and travel sectors have been hit harder than others, forcing professionals in these fields to change direction in their careers.” He said according to LinkedIn data that measured the likelihood of our members looking for jobs outside their sector, professionals in the recreation and travel industries were five times more likely to apply for a job outside their field during the last 12 months. In the retail sector, people were 2.1 times more likely to apply for a job in a sector different than their own, as a high percentage of retailers faced high losses during the crisis.” He said there has been a huge uptake for LinkedIn’s 16,000 courses on in-demand skills. “We also recently made a global announcement with Microsoft to help reskill 25 million people who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Through this initiative, we hope to help accelerate economic recovery by equipping those hardest hit with the digital skills the post-pandemic job market requires. For companies looking to hire, reaching out to employees in these industries may be a good idea, as they tend to be more available than those in other sectors, and are more likely to be actively looking for work. This could also be a good opportunity to diversify work teams with people who have different backgrounds and skills — not just those with experience in your industry.” Are there takers for freelancers? The shifting industry hiring patterns and underlying changes to the way companies work have redefined roles during the COVID-19 crisis. As Shirin Khan, Manager-PEO Services, Nathan & Nathan Human Resources, said, “In today’s COVID-19 ridden world, when uncertainty is at its peak, we must embrace the change and acknowledge the new realities. Our learnings from the pandemic, from remote working to putting forth our finest technological fronts, have taught us a way to work without hampering our healthy life balance. Shirin Khan Shirin Khan “While most of us may be looking for new jobs out of necessity, the COVID-19 predicament is also an opportune time to take a peek into the remote work positions and freelance gigs . This change in the environment requires us to be prepared for a job that is completely out of our forte or shift to an entirely new career path.” Career change Speaking of a career change, she said, “How many times have we found ourselves say what if I was destined to be a fitness trainer, or an influencer? Perhaps even a writer. We are all guilty of having thoughts of such a sudden career shift. What if I were to tell you that a thought that would have ordinarily been painted as too risky is providing a much more promising path than the conventional yet mundane job-seeking route in the time of this crisis?” She said with a weak ongoing job market, being a freelancing individual is a “ray of sunshine”. “Given the current situation, an individual who is on the path of freelancing can find freedom in working as a freelancer on their own or to work on a temporary contract basis and fulfill short term project based work with various companies Employers value a freelancer for their individualised work, they prefer hiring such experts because the inputs-required in training, facilitation and other usual benefits- are greatly reduced while the outputs are only increased,” she added. She said according to a survey, 64 per cent of firms are currently relying on collaborations with freelancers and are continually looking for them as they have proven to produce better returns, both in terms of efficiency and productivity. “While this pandemic has had a catastrophic effect on our lives, it has also given us a very important thing which is time, time to think, to research and rediscover ourselves.” Why reskill? What are residents saying? Shital Somaiya: A Future with Artifical Intelligence Shital Somaiya Shital Somaiya “COVID-19 is making people do dfferent things. I am essentially an engineer and a sales guy in the oild and gas industry. I realise the industry is changing rapidly and it can be very unnerving. I am saying that despite being 50 and having 20 years of experience. So I began to look at what I could do – Artifical Intelligence Data seemed like a good subject to learn as it would prepare me for the future. I took up a six month course to reskill myself – and I am glad to say I have already completed three months. Thankfully, I have not lost my job.” Vishal Kaslay: From e-recruitments to training Vishal Kaslay Vishal Kaslay “I have over 19 years of Enterprise Sales experience. In my last capacity as Head of Sales at a private company, I was made redundant. I was looking at sales jobs that fit my experience but was finding it very tough. I found an opportunity as a business manager, which was completely different to what I was doing previously but accepted it since my choices were limited and the company seemed great. I was happy to have made the right transition from e-recruitments into training.” Koshin Saleh: The sky is the limit Koshin Saleh Koshin Saleh “I have been a resident of Dubai for over six years and this is my first time experiencing any difficulty or challenge. I work in the airline industry and in June, I was made redundant due to COVID-19. Since then, I have been looking for all types of roles in various industries to seek an income to sustain a living. I’ve been open to starting a new career outside of the airline industry. I’m very excited to see what my next path entails.” Lathiffa Shifana Najimudeen: Taking the right step Lathiffa Shifana Najimudeen Lathiffa Shifana Najimudeen “I am a Software Engineer who landed in the UAE with my husband and a toddler, while everything around my family life was set. I had the urge to be an independent working woman. I took up a course in RPA and got myself certified. I believe I have taken the right step to relaunch my career and eventually become a successful professional.” Maneshveni VN: Set for an exciting new career Maneshveni VN Maneshveni VN “As a Software Quality Assurance Analyst who has predominantly worked on repetitive tasks, I realised the importance of automation and the need to upskill myself. But then came the big question: What to learn? I accidentally started reading an article on RPA. I found my five-weekend-long course very interesting and informative. I am all set for an exciting career path ahead.”

GulfNews Business

Fixation with in-class learning must go

Analysis|: COVID-19 forced universities to rapidly shift online this past spring. While universities with digital capabilities were better equipped to make the transition, under-resourced institutions struggled to provide a high quality remote learning experience in such a tight timeframe. Unfortunately, as the new academic year began, the virus was still spreading - and universities face an uncertain fall. While some institutions across the UAE partially re-opened with safety measures in place, the majority of students in the region must go at least partially remote. See more More residential options added at Dubai south residential district Trees, birds, ponds: Mexico City's ancient lake reclaims scrapped airport Abu Dhabi: 9 places where rents have dropped in the capital Meet the Vietnamese billionaire who helps the world beat COVID-19 Photos: Thai airways opens aircraft themed restaurant With conditions changing so quickly, how can universities prepare? Practicality, flexibility, and compassion are key to successful outcomes. Here are five areas to focus on that encompass these principles: Digital capacity, governance Less than 3 per cent of overall education expenditure is spent on technology globally. That’s not nearly enough. The pandemic has made a coherent digital strategy - and backed by a team focused on its execution - more critical than ever. In the UAE, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University is the only institution accredited by the Ministry of Education to offer a distant learning experience that supports digital education and flexible learning experiences. Students have to attend either live online classes, referred to as “virtual synchronous sessions”, or have the option of “asynchronous sessions”, where they are provided with a range of self-paced educational materials. Universities without any existing digital capabilities can take the first step by forming a small committee whose primary responsibility is to build a digital roadmap and execute on it. Once you have agreed on your strategy, set strong governance in place. Create a set of digital readiness criteria that you regularly measure each department against to evaluate your university’s overall progress. Curriculum readiness This crisis is also an opportunity to reinvent structure content and prepare students for the workforce. With more students planning gap years or taking academic breaks due to family or health obligations, it’s crucial to embrace flexibility. Consider more modular, stackable courseware into your curriculum. Communication Students will need and demand frequent communications about reopening strategies, safety protocols, remote learning options, and more. Ensure you have a self-serve communications infrastructure that regularly updates students — relying solely on email bulletins will not be as effective. Students need an interactive intranet resource they can turn to for the latest information. Lead with empathy in all communications, taking into account that, like you, students are also feeling uncertain in nearly all facets of their lives. Community When campuses are fully or partially shut down, students can feel isolated in their learning experience. Building a virtual community is another way to embody compassion and help students collaborate with course material. Professors of the University of Illinois iMBA programme use Zoom to host live sessions to discuss course material and solve problems in a hands-on manner. They engage with students personally, encourage participation, and read facial cues to understand how students react to the discussion. Faculty can foster knowledge sharing among the students themselves via Slack groups or similar communication tools. Build on trust The notion of trust in our context involves all three guiding principles of flexibility, practicality, and compassion. Many faculty and administrators believe that a face-to-face environment is necessary for students to pay attention... and truly learn. After all, that’s the way they learned. Successfully teaching online requires a shift in fundamental thinking. Trust that the learning is happening, even if you’re not there to see it. If you haven’t already, it’s time to flip your classrooms. Assign asynchronous learning opportunities — these can be high-quality online courses from other institutions if you don’t have an extensive digital catalog — and use live class time for virtual discussion. This school year will be challenging for university administrators, faculty, and students as they navigate this dynamic situation. However, the world is already proving that remote learning can be successful with the right tools. No matter where you are in your digital journey, leading with practicality, flexibility, and compassion will help you support your staff and students through this challenging time. - Betty Vandenbosch is Chief Content Officer, Coursera.

GulfNews TOP

Why cashless payment is catching on in UAE

Banking|: Abu Dhabi: The idea of having a cashless society for payments and banking is no longer just a distant dream, but fast becoming a new reality here in the UAE, with the global pandemic accelerating the country’s drive towards such a new system according to Ramana Kumar head of payments and digital banking at First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB). “People have started to see the value in [going cashless] and our customer transactions have picked up in terms of Ecommerce and digital payments,” he said. See more More residential options added at Dubai south residential district Trees, birds, ponds: Mexico City's ancient lake reclaims scrapped airport Abu Dhabi: 9 places where rents have dropped in the capital Photos: Thai airways opens aircraft themed restaurant With airline fleets grounded, plane recyclers bet on parts boom “In terms of branch transaction migrations we have seen a phenomenal change in that, and so today our digital channels cater to more than 90-95 per cent of our overall transactions, which is a marked shift in customer behaviour,” he added, also noting that a big portion of that digital activity includes cashless payments. The people who used to spend cash before or used the cash based models have now shifted towards using a digital model or a card based model. The trends are very visible… People have started to see that exchanging cash physically is a challenge during the COVID situation. Ramana Kumar, Head of Payments and Digital Banking at First Abu Dhabi Bank And it’s not just bank customers that are setting the trend towards digitisation, but many merchants and businesses according to Kumar. “There were merchants before – such as the baqalas of the world or some of the small scale merchants who always thought collecting cash is the best for payments. “And so what happened regarding digital payments is COVID really pushed customers to say no these merchants, that they want to only pay with their card, mobile phone or eWallet,” he added. “This has led to a transformation, and today even baqalas in and around households they send the card machine when making their deliveries.” Survival strategy For many shops and businesses it became a matter of survival to shift towards digital payments said Kumar. “During the peak COVID situation we went and fixed the machines in these merchant locations. There were merchants sitting with stock and no customers were visiting their shops, so we called them and we set it up for them remotely to link their payments digitally.” Digital transformation Kumar acknowledged the shifts in customer behaviour towards digitisation would have an obvious affect on physical branches, which he said would also help drive bank costs down. “If I’m controlling everything from my phone [as a customer] why would I need to walk into a branch, why would I need to call a call centre, why would I need to physically go wait for parking and to physically walk in and worry about getting in touch or in contact with other people. “The customer power or control drives all the cost factors for a bank. Digital payment by default drives the cost down for us,” he added. That doesn’t however mean physical bank branches will no longer exist, instead Kumar says branches are becoming more digital savvy in how they will operate, with FAB investing heavily into turning their branches into what he calls “digital branches”. Cashless initiatives This month has seen the launch of two major cashless payment initiatives in the UAE. they include Abu Dhabi Pay, launched by Abu Dhabi Government Services (TAMM) in partnership with FAB, which allow residents and citizens to pay by using a digital wallet application for digital government services. The second cashless programme - klip - was launched by Emirates Digital Wallet along with FAB, Mashreq Bank, National Bank of Fujairah and Mastercard. The initiative allows customers to transfer money to others through a mobile number and allows them to pay for goods using the existing merchant reach offered by partner banks.

GulfNews Business

Pandemic has accelerated drive towards cashless payments in UAE, says FAB official

Banking|: Abu Dhabi: The idea of having a cashless society for payments and banking is no longer just a distant dream, but fast becoming a new reality here in the UAE, with the global pandemic accelerating the country’s drive towards such a new system according to Ramana Kumar head of payments and digital banking at First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB). “People have started to see the value in [going cashless] and our customer transactions have picked up in terms of Ecommerce and digital payments,” he said. See more More residential options added at Dubai south residential district Trees, birds, ponds: Mexico City's ancient lake reclaims scrapped airport Abu Dhabi: 9 places where rents have dropped in the capital Photos: Thai airways opens aircraft themed restaurant With airline fleets grounded, plane recyclers bet on parts boom “In terms of branch transaction migrations we have seen a phenomenal change in that, and so today our digital channels cater to more than 90-95 per cent of our overall transactions, which is a marked shift in customer behaviour,” he added, also noting that a big portion of that digital activity includes cashless payments. The people who used to spend cash before or used the cash based models have now shifted towards using a digital model or a card based model. The trends are very visible… People have started to see that exchanging cash physically is a challenge during the COVID situation. Ramana Kumar, Head of Payments and Digital Banking at First Abu Dhabi Bank And it’s not just bank customers that are setting the trend towards digitisation, but many merchants and businesses according to Kumar. “There were merchants before – such as the baqalas of the world or some of the small scale merchants who always thought collecting cash is the best for payments. “And so what happened regarding digital payments is COVID really pushed customers to say no these merchants, that they want to only pay with their card, mobile phone or eWallet,” he added. “This has led to a transformation, and today even baqalas in and around households they send the card machine when making their deliveries.” Survival strategy For many shops and businesses it became a matter of survival to shift towards digital payments said Kumar. “During the peak COVID situation we went and fixed the machines in these merchant locations. There were merchants sitting with stock and no customers were visiting their shops, so we called them and we set it up for them remotely to link their payments digitally.” Digital transformation Kumar acknowledged the shifts in customer behaviour towards digitisation would have an obvious affect on physical branches, which he said would also help drive bank costs down. “If I’m controlling everything from my phone [as a customer] why would I need to walk into a branch, why would I need to call a call centre, why would I need to physically go wait for parking and to physically walk in and worry about getting in touch or in contact with other people. “The customer power or control drives all the cost factors for a bank. Digital payment by default drives the cost down for us,” he added. That doesn’t however mean physical bank branches will no longer exist, instead Kumar says branches are becoming more digital savvy in how they will operate, with FAB investing heavily into turning their branches into what he calls “digital branches”. Cashless initiatives This month has seen the launch of two major cashless payment initiatives in the UAE. they include Abu Dhabi Pay, launched by Abu Dhabi Government Services (TAMM) in partnership with FAB, which allow residents and citizens to pay by using a digital wallet application for digital government services. The second cashless programme - klip - was launched by Emirates Digital Wallet along with FAB, Mashreq Bank, National Bank of Fujairah and Mastercard. The initiative allows customers to transfer money to others through a mobile number and allows them to pay for goods using the existing merchant reach offered by partner banks.

GulfNews Technology

Australia to amend law making Facebook, Google pay for news

Technology|: Canberra: Australia’s fair trade regulator Rod Sims, chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, said he would give his final draft of the laws to make Facebook and Google pay Australian media companies for the news content they use by early October. See more Photos: Egypt's blossoming trade in fragrant jasmine flowers Billionaire car-part supplier aims to triple sales in five years Vanishing jobs and empty offices plague Britain's retailers Photos: Czech guitar maker born of necessity woos stars Photos: Unemployment rate rises due to coronavirus Facebook has warned it might block Australian news content rather than pay for it. Google has said the proposed laws would result in ``dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube,’’ put free services at risk and could lead to users’ data ``being handed over to big news businesses.’’ Sims said he is discussing the draft of his bill with the U.S. social media platforms. It could be introduced into Parliament in late October. ``Google has got concerns about it, some of it is that they just don’t like it, others are things that we’re happily going to engage with them on,’’ Sims told a webinar hosted by The Australia Institute, an independent think-tank. ``We’ll make changes to address some of those issues -- not all, but some,’’ Sims said. Among the concerns is a fear that under the so-called News Media Bargaining Code, news businesses ``will be able to somehow control their algorithms,’’ Sims said. ``We’ll engage with them and clarify that so that there’s no way that the news media businesses can interfere with the algorithms of Google or Facebook,’’ Sims said. He said he would also clarify that the platforms would not have to disclose more data about users than they already share. ``There’s nothing in the code that forces Google or Facebook to share the data from individuals,’’ Sims said. Sims was not prepared to negotiate the ``core’’ of the code, which he described as the ``bits of glue that hold the code together, that make it workable.’’ These included an arbitrator to address the bargaining imbalance between the tech giants and news businesses. If a platform and a news outlet can’t reach an agreement on price, an arbitrator would be appointed to make a binding decision. Another core aspect was a non-discrimination clause to prevent the platforms from prioritizing Australia’s state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corp. and Special Broadcasting Service, whose news content will remain free. Sims said he did not know whether Facebook would act on its threat and block Australian news, but he suspected that to do so would ``weaken’’ the platform. Spain and France and have both failed to make Facebook and Google pay for news through copyright law. Sims said he has spoken about Australia’s approach through fair trading laws to regulators in the United States and Europe. ``They’re all wrestling with the same problem,’’ Sims said.


GulfNews Business

Stricter regulation is actually a blessing

Analysis|: ‘Stay safe’ has become more than just a mantra these past six months. Governments have used the phrase to explain why restrictions to everyday life are needed. We read it on posters in the street and on shop doors. We even sign off our emails to friends and colleagues with it. Yet there is more to these two words than just jargon. See more Midas touch: Singapore exchange touts gold to the masses Photos: New products, services rolled out by Apple Photos: Dubai cruise industry ready to set sail again Assembling a solar powered future in China Mexico holds symbolic raffle for unwanted presidential jet Staying safe has become an imperative that has percolated through society and changing the way we perceive the world at large. It is also changing the way we think about risk in financial markets. The last time this happened was a decade ago when the Global Financial Crisis ushered in a slew of reforms that sought to atone for an era of laissez-faire capitalism. Before the collapse of Lehman Bros, regulation was often seen as an obstacle to overcome rather than a code to work to. The Gulf had its own financial idiosyncrasies that were also to be swept away by the rising regulatory tide, such as the practice of “name lending”, where reputation alone was often enough to secure vast credit lines for projects that were sometimes little more than ideas. But rather than being a hindrance to the development of regional financial markets, the regulatory changes put into place in the years that followed the crisis had the opposite effect. Improved profile Instead, bourses from the UAE to Saudi Arabia were elevated by index providers, attracting billions of dollars in fresh capital and helping to move the Gulf from the fringes of the investment world to nearer the mainstream. Such progress in such a short period would not have been possible without the enabling scaffold that financial market regulation provided. Some of the improvements were subtle and not mandated per se, but were still palpable and made possible because of the new mood of professionalism that was changing the way companies interacted with investors and the information that they disclosed. Coming from within The coronavirus pandemic has once again triggered a new wave of regulatory introspection across global markets and in the Gulf, where it can be argued the stakes are much higher today than at the time of the Global Financial Crisis. This time the investment community itself is driving the trend as much as regulators. Our recent COVID-19 survey reveals that the majority of UAE investment professionals (78 per cent) believe that regulators should take a proactive role and consult with firms on possible solutions. More than half also believe regulators should design new frameworks to help restart normal market activity as quickly as possible. With so much of the investment community already onside, the industry at large is in a better mindset than a decade ago, when confrontation rather than collaboration often defined the dynamic. The challenge for regulators will be to keep in lockstep with the increasingly technology-driven sectors that they oversee. Go as wide as possible From the exponential growth of digital currencies to the adoption of artificial intelligence across banking and trading, one of the biggest issues may simply be generating sufficient bandwidth to stay across it all. This is especially true of the Gulf states, which are actively targeting the fintech sector. In the past, individual jurisdictions such as Abu Dhabi Global Market have been remarkably effective in establishing robust regulatory frameworks supported by legal enforcement, which was instrumental in changing the wider perception of Gulf financial markets. The future may demand such innovation across the region to prevent regulatory arbitrage and ensure that the momentum is maintained amid so much volatility in sectors from energy to real estate. Europe is already working on a number of financial sector reforms to make it easier for capital markets to support the recovery of businesses. These include efforts to make shorter and easy-to-read prospectuses aimed at enabling companies to raise more funds via equity rather than debt. Gulf economies will also now need to show, as they did a decade ago, that they are capable of reacting quickly to the new and still unfolding consequences of the pandemic on financial markets. If there is one big lesson for governments from this crisis, it is that swift and decisive action has given people a better chance to stay safe. The same holds true for investors. - William Tohme is Senior Regional Head at CFA Institute.