DUBAI: A number of challenges and opportunities have emerged for university students and graduates as a result of the COVID pandemic – a subject that was top of the agenda in the virtual event “Building the Ideal Skill Set for the 21st Century: How Students Can Prepare for the Modern Workplace”, which kicked off the Expo 2020 Dubai’s Education Programme Webinar Series.

Held in collaboration with SAP, Expo’s Official Innovative Enterprise Software Partner, it highlighted how the pandemic has led to job-search challenges for university students and graduates, but has catalyzed innovation and technological advancement.

Indeed, the UAE is a rare global bright spot: many UAE employers are expecting the market to rally, with up to 14 percent growth in the university graduate labor market in 2021, according to a recent report by the Institute of Student Employers. Many recruitment tools have already been moved online.

“Interdisciplinary collaboration and life-long learning in an increasingly digital work environment is the exciting future of work the next generation of talents shall be prepared for by universities and companies,” said Katharina Schäfer, Global Head of University Alliances, SAP.

By supporting digital skills development for students and recent graduates, the SAP University Alliances Program enables faculty and teachers at educational institutions and partners around the world to educate young talents and help them to launch their careers in the SAP ecosystem.

The Expo Education Programme provides a once-in-a-lifetime educational experience to UAE and international university students, and international high school students through specially curated tours during Expo. Its Partner Webinar Series provides a platform for the next World Expo’s official partners – representing an elite range of leading local and global organisations – to support the nation’s youth through highly interactive virtual sessions.

“The pandemic has created unique challenges and left people unsure how to best plan for the future, with university students and fresh graduates from the class of 2020 among the most adversely impacted and unsure of the skills they would need to succeed in a future workplace,” said Kailash Nagdev, Vice President, Sales & Analytics, Expo 2020 Dubai.

“We are all responsible for building societal resilience by implementing fair, inclusive recovery measures that leave no one behind. The Expo Education Programme is enabling students to connect with experts, explore career paths and discover how, collaboratively, we can build solutions for a brighter future.”

Education experts have also cautioned that among the more prominent risks of recruitment during the pandemic is that organizations could increase gender and inter-generational inequalities.

“The language around the COVID-19 pandemic often revolves around loss, devastation and catastrophic effects on the global economy,” said Dr. Fida Afiouni, Associate Professor of Human Resource Management at the Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut. “But I’m not concerned about our future because of my trust in our youth. It is through their adaptability, resilience, hard work, persistence, and inclusive values that we can bounce back, and shift towards countless possibilities. Education today is important, and change is the end result of all true learning.”

Additional speakers during the education webinar included Haifa Al Kaylani, Founder and Chair, Arab International Women’s Forum; Wadia Ait Hamza, Head of the Global Shapers Community, World Economic Forum; Wissam Kadi, Global Initiatives Director, SAP Next-Gen and SAP UAE; Fatima Alloghani, Head of Expo Academy and Emiratization, Expo 2020 Dubai.

Inclusive platform for People of Determination at Expo 2020 Dubai

During Tolerance and Inclusivity Week held in November 2020 – the fourth in a series of thematic weeks hosted by Expo 2020 – Deirdre O’Reilly, Senior Director, Expo 2020 Dubai at SAP UAE; and Vidya Gugnani, Director, SAP Co-Innovation Lab in the UAE, presented PODium, an innovative technology platform that enables people of determination to effectively navigate Expo 2020 Dubai.

PODium is being developed in co-operation with the SAP Co-Innovation Lab in the UAE for Expo 2020 Dubai, alongside SAP technology partners HERE Technologies and Extentia Information Technology. PODium focuses on providing a unique, tailored experience, centering on navigational and assistance challenges on-site at Expo 2020 for People of Determination. SAP has also selected PODium for its internal SAP One Billion Lives social entrepreneurship initiative.

Digital skills and innovation vital for the post-COVID-19 world

During Expo 2020 Dubai’s Knowledge and Learning Week, Thomas Benaroya, Winnovate Innovation Program Lead, SAP, will present the Winnovate initiative.

Winnovate, powered by SAP, is an innovation coaching and workshop facilitator that supports individuals and organizations to build and foster innovation capabilities through transformational training programs. Winnovate helps organizations to experience, learn and apply cutting-edge innovation methodologies, such as design thinking and business modeling, fueled by powerful change techniques, including positive psychology and creative team coaching.

For more information, and to register interest for future webinars, please visit:

Visit the SAP News Center. Follow SAP on Twitter: @SAPMENA and @sapnews.


About SAP

SAP’s strategy is to help every business run as an intelligent enterprise. As the market leader in enterprise application software, we help companies of all sizes and in all industries run at their best: 77% of the world’s transaction revenue touches an SAP® system. Our machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced analytics technologies help turn customers’ businesses into intelligent enterprises. SAP helps give people and organizations deep business insight and fosters collaboration that helps them stay ahead of their competition. We simplify technology for companies so they can consume our software the way they want – without disruption. Our end-to-end suite of applications and services enable more than 440,000 business and public customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and make a difference. With a global network of customers, partners, employees, and thought leaders, SAP helps the world run better and improve people’s lives. For more information, visit

For more information, press only:
Husain Al Tamimi, SAP, 
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About Expo 2020 Dubai

From 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, Expo 2020 Dubai will bring the world together in a spirit of hope and optimism and with a shared purpose towards solving some of our greatest challenges.

  • It will showcase the greatest innovations, breakthroughs and ideas from around the planet, enabling action towards a better world under its theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.
  • Expo 2020 will be an endless journey of discovery as more than 200 participants – including nations, multilateral organisations, businesses, and educational institutions, as well as millions of visitors – harness their collective power to change the world for the better.
  • Expo 2020’s sub-themes of OpportunityMobility and Sustainability will inspire visitors to make a conscious effort to think and live differently.
  • An entertaining global celebration with something for everyone, Expo 2020 will wow visitors with daily events, showcasing the best of technology, creativity and culture, while F&B outlets will feature cuisine from around the world.
  • The first World Expo to take place in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA), located on a 4.38 sqkm site adjacent to Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai South.
  • Built with a long-term legacy in mind, the Expo site is an example of innovation in action and will transform into District 2020, a blueprint for human-centric, smart and sustainable cities of the future, after Expo 2020 closes its doors.


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