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Cyber Security is a Popular Career Choice in the UAE and Saudi Arabia

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The latest research from global IT security training company SANS Institute demonstrates that among 14-18-year-olds across seven countries in the Middle East and Europe, the choice of IT (including cyber security) as a career is highest in Saudi Arabia and the UAE (47% and 46% respectively). Of those students who are interested in a career in IT, 49% were specifically interested in cyber security across the EMEA sample of students, with Saudi Arabia and UAE leading the pack at 63% and 58% respectively.

In late 2018, SANS Institute commissioned research agency Vanson Bourne* to explore awareness of and opinions on cyber security amongst 4,000 secondary students in seven countries across Europe and the Middle East. This includes the UAE, Saudi Arabia, UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. The SANS EMEA Survey: the iGen and Cyber Security report, outlines these and other findings.

While the majority of students across EMEA had heard of cyber security (81%), the results show that those countries with higher awareness of the subject could potentially have a competitive advantage when it comes to building out talent in the longer term. The role of parents in education of cyber security around mobile devices and public Wi-Fi, to a great extent, was the highest in Saudi Arabia (51%) and the UAE (44%) followed by Germany (38%) amongst this sample of EMEA countries.

Other key findings from the research include:

  • Given the prolific nature of cyber security and the media attention it attracts today, it is perhaps surprising that no country achieved 100% awareness. Germany, leads the pack in cyber awareness: 92% of German students said they had heard of cyber security, followed by the UAE (85%) and the UK (82%).
  • There is more to IT than cyber: 32% of students across EMEA are considering IT as one of their top five career choices. In fact, it was more likely to rank in the top five than more traditional careers such as doctor/nurse (21%), teacher (19%) or working in finance (16%). On a local level, students from Saudi Arabia (47%), the UAE (46%) and Germany (33%) are more likely to consider IT in their top five careers.
  • Of those interested in IT careers, creating applications and software topped the list of sub-categories overall (61%), followed by IT system design (52%), and cyber security in third (49%). Of those students interested in IT as a career choice, cyber security had the highest preference in Saudi Arabia (63%) and the UAE (58%).
  • Whether or not students are aware of the career options available, 81% of students across EMEA said they would be interested in learning more on the subject, as part of their school day, an extra-curricular activity, or both. Again, Saudi Arabia and the UAE led the pack with over 93% of students in Saudi Arabia and 91% in the UAE wanting to get to know more about cyber security.

“We are currently on the brink of a cyber security crisis. By 2020, there will be approximately 24 billion internet-connected devices installed across the world. However, reports show that in the next year or two, unfilled cyber security job openings globally will run into several millions, meaning we are severely short of professionals to secure all those devices and systems we are putting online. Given the enthusiasm and aptitude of the iGeneration* for digital technologies, the answer to our cyber crisis could lie in enthusing and educating younger generations about cyber security now, to arm our future workforce,” explains Ned Baltagi, Managing Director in the Middle East, SANS Institute.

SANS is currently running programmes in the US and UK to develop knowledge and awareness among school-age students. In the UK, SANS is working with the UK Government to deliver Cyber Discovery, an extensive programme using gamification techniques to develop skills and identify those with natural talent. The programme is aimed at young people aged 14-18 and aims to help plug the UK’s cyber security skills gap by tapping into young and undiscovered talent with the ambition of stimulating and nurturing interest in cyber security as a future career path.

“The research shows that Saudi Arabia and UAE lead the EMEA pack in terms of awareness of cyber security and preference as a career option. The role of parents in increasing the awareness of cyber security around connected devices and public Wi-Fi is also indicated. With the continuing growth in both nation state and everyday cybercrime, both parents and their school-age children are becoming aware of the importance of cyber security skills and their role in selecting a career in this field,” Baltagi adds.

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Education

Canon Partners with the Ministry of Education for Digital Skills Development

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Canon Middle East (CME) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Education as the official strategic partner for skills development in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The partnership delivers on the ambitions of the UAE’s Vision 2021 to develop the talent of youth in the UAE by empowering them to engage new-age digital innovations and prepare them with the skills required for education and employment opportunities of the future.

Her Excellency Dr. Amna Al Dahak Al Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary for Care and Activities Sector emphasised that through all of its partnerships, the Ministry of Education seeks to enhance students’ skills across various creative fields, positively impacting their journey in future. To this end, the Ministry focuses to uplift students’ skills and meet their different interests in-line with its goals, academic and skill enhancement plans for the students of the UAE.

Her Excellency also highlighted that the MoU is a result of a long-standing cooperation, as Canon had organised many programmes aiming to enhance students’ skills in photography and digital production and improving their various talents, as the Ministry seeks to promote cooperation with specialised parties in-line with its initiatives for visual arts.

As part of the agreement, Canon hosted a visual photography summer camp this year for 87 students from various schools to further develop their imaging skills and understanding of visual arts. The camp consisted of eight sessions and included video instruction and assignments for each student. The students’ work will be demonstrated through a virtual exhibition in October.

In 2021, Canon will also become the Ministry’s official partner for the National Clubs programme, which is an afterschool digital hub to empower and educate students on various topics including art and culture, health and fitness, STEM, life skills, and linguistics. Visual and creative arts, with an emphasis on photography and videography, are also a key component of the programme, and

Canon will conduct imaging workshops for 100 students aged between 10 and 18 who are interested in photography and filmmaking. The eight-week long course will be delivered online through virtual instruction and training videos and will run across three different levels to cater to the various age groups within the National Clubs programme.

Canon’s imaging workshops fall within Canon’s AKTASHIF programme which is a community-oriented initiative designed to equip young people aged 14 to 24 with the tools and techniques to unleash creative careers. The initiative provides training, mentorship and provides a focal point for “YOUTH” to develop their interests, strengthen their creativity and inculcate in them the spirit of entrepreneurship.

Anurag Agrawal, Managing Director, Canon Middle East and Canon Turkey, said, “Our collaboration with the Ministry spans a number of years and this agreement will build on the work we have done together to spark innovation and inspire students. Youth today are at a major crossroads as their educational and self-development journey is rapidly unravelling and evolving; but they are also increasingly adaptable, eager to get past hurdles, and are innovative in their approach to learning new skills. Through our workshops students will be mentored and trained using new digital technology that is essential for their education today and will prepare them for their professional careers in the future.”

“The  partnership also underlines our commitment to our corporate philosophy, ‘Kyosei,’ meaning living and working together for the common good, and education is one of our key focus areas as an innovation-led, technology company, where we feel we can make a positive difference,” added Agrawal.

The Ministry of Education and Canon have collaborated on a series of successful initiatives which led to the signing of the partnership agreement this year. The initiatives included supporting the Ministry’s Masterpieces programme by providing photography courses, equipment and giveaways for the programme’s winners, and printing the winning imagery to be displayed at the La Perle show.

Last year, Canon launched a competition on Women’s Day within UAE public schools where four female students won pink Selfy printers and a photography master class with a Canon Ambassador. Canon also sponsored the National Science and Technology and Innovation Fair hosted by the Ministry.

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Cool Stuff

SPL Launches ‘Smart Locker’ Service to Give Members Round-the-Clock Access to Books

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The Sharjah Public Library (SPL), an affiliate of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), has launched the ‘Smart Locker’ service that facilitates the 24/7 borrowing of books via the SPL website. The books ordered through the Smart Locker will be reserved for three days and can be collected any time during this period.

Eman Bushulaibi, Director of SPL

This new system is part of the integrated smart services launched by SPL and caters especially to the needs of members who are unable to visit during the opening hours of the library.

The Smart Locker service uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology that allows members to use their Emirates ID or SPL’s membership cards to collect and return books. SPL’s Smart Locker consists of 38 lockers equipped with a touch screen that are connected to SPL’s digital network and CCTVs.

Commenting on the launch of the new service, Eman Bushulaibi, Director of SPL, said: “The Sharjah Public Library is a keen adopter of innovative technologies, which enables us to continually improve its patrons’ user experience. Our Smart Locker service will offer its users an advanced personalised service, allowing members to engage with SPL’s array of offerings in new and improved ways.”

She added: “Globally, cultural entities are devising inventive ways to keep the public engaged with the written word, especially during the ongoing pandemic. With the Smart Locker service, our members can order and pick up books at their convenience in a contactless manner. This new feature furthers the library’s efforts to implement precautionary measures that will keep all our valued customers safe.”

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Education

New ADEK Activity Platform Launched to Allow Kids to Explore, Learn, and Innovate

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With schools out for summer, Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) is urging students to #NeverStopLearning with a new Activity Platform. Serving as the go-to resource for entertainment and extra-curricular activities in the Emirate, the platform has been developed as a new digital playground as parents seek innovative ways to keep their children entertained this summer and beyond. 

Taking into account the needs of children of all ages, ADEK has teamed up with some of the UAE’s leading edutainment vendors to create a platform packed full of enrichment programs, competitions, edutainment exercises, academic support, and physical and wellbeing challenges across four learning pillars: STEM and Innovation; Enrichment; Arts, Culture & Languages; and Physical Education and Wellbeing.

“Student wellbeing and engagement are at the core of our efforts at ADEK. With the current situation fuelling our commitment to ensure there are constant avenues of engagement for everybody within the Abu Dhabi education community, the Activity Platform has been designed as a one-stop resource for students to continue learning, innovating and staying active,” said H.E. Amer Al Hammadi, Undersecretary of Undersecretary of the Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK).

“The options available are fun and engaging, taking students away from pure academics and filling their time with meaningful activities. There are also ample opportunities for students to connect with their peers in a number of the challenges requiring team collaboration.”

SPOTLIGHT ON STEM
In line with ADEK’s mission to help shape a future-ready workforce through education, the STEM & Innovation stream on the Activity Platform is full of experiences for 21st century learners. Whether embarking on a journey through coding by learning the basics, taking their interest in robotics to the next level through a series of challenges, or seeking safe and fun science and engineering experiments at home, the STEM & Innovation pillar encourages critical thinking in fun ways.

AN EYE FOR ARTS AND CULTURE 
Arts, Language and Culture are embraced with access to some of the capital’s most iconic attractions. Experiences are augmented with hands-on creative activities which add three-dimensional learning to a digital discovery. Children can take time-out to read, reflect and explore ideas in more depth, with access to extensive digital libraries and storytelling experiences. Additionally, language skills can be honed with a range of courses for native and non-native English and Arabic speakers. The Arts, Language and Culture stream also includes music tutorials and poetry.

ENRICHING EDUCATION JOURNEYS
The platform also caters to students plotting their first steps towards higher education, with a range of webinars and university prep talks ensuring they are ready for the big leap into university. There is also a generous offering of admission preparation courses, including IELTS to SATS revisions, specialist subject tutoring and couching sessions for candidate interviews. Younger students can revise or refresh core subjects ensuring they are prepped for the coming academic year.

KEEP ON MOVING
For energetic students eager to keep moving, the platform’s Physical Education and Wellbeing stream features a whole host of challenges, from sports contests, to cooking competitions and physical activities children can do around the home or garden.

To register for the Activity Platform, visit activityplatform.ae

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