UNDP and MBRF partner with Coursera to launch an initiative to enhance skills for future job markets across the Arab States region

The new FutureSkills4All initiative is tailored to address needs of a fast-changing workforce

September 25, 2023

New York: Marking the 15th anniversary of their partnership at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 78), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF) teamed up with the leading online learning platform, Coursera, to launch the FutureSkills4All initiative — a transformative programme aimed to provide scholarships for upskilling and reskilling citizens across the Arab States region to enhance their employability in jobs of the future that will drive economic growth in the region.

"Skills development to meet the challenges of the 21st century requires robust collaboration and innovation. The FutureSkills4All initiative that we are launching today will shape a future where everyone has equal and easy access to quality continuing education and skills development,” said Abdallah Al Dardari, Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States at UNDP. “We are confident that this initiative will pave the way for thousands of people to seize the opportunities of tomorrow and boost our pursuit of the vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Arab States region.”

The skills required in today’s job market are changing faster than ever before, largely due to accelerated digital transformation and new technologies. Recent studies show that more than 60 percent of workers will need retraining by 2027. Only half of those workers currently have access to adequate training opportunities.

“Partnerships like these reflect the United Arab Emirates’ vision of progress and innovation, empowering individuals with the knowledge and skills they need for the future. Together, we aim to foster an environment where every individual can thrive in the digital age,” said H.E. Jamal Bin Huwaireb, CEO of MBRF. “Launching this initiative with UNDP and Coursera at such an important platform, not only underscores the commitment of our nation to the development of the Arab States region but also to global cooperation and knowledge exchange.

The one-year pilot programme aims to provide thousands of people with the opportunity to develop in-demand and career-relevant skills and create a more flexible and resilient workforce. In its initial phase, it will be available to 5,500 Arab nationals in nine countries, including Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates. The programme will open to recent graduates, entrepreneurs, and job seekers, with a focus on people in underserved and vulnerable communities. It also aims to help micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and public institutions, improve their employees’ skills.

“We’re proud to partner with UNDP and MBRF to equip thousands of citizens across the Arab States region with the in-demand skills and credentials needed to participate in the digital economy,” said Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of Coursera. “This initiative will improve employability for jobseekers, help employers and entrepreneurs stay competitive, and drive economic prosperity across the region.” To learn more about the ‘FutureSkills4All’ initiative and register, please visit www.knowledge4all.org. Registration will open on 15 October 2023.

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Media Contacts 

UNDP: Stephanie Boustany, stephanie.boustany@undp.org, Tel: +971 56 264 0441 

MBRF: Hussain Mohammad, hussain.mohammad@mbrf.ae, Tel: +971 56 548 4801 

Coursera: Obada Jalloul, ojalloul@coursera.org, Tel: +971 56 392 6562

About UNDP 

UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries and territories, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet.

About MBRF

Launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai in May 2007, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation has since led and implemented pioneering programmes aimed at establishing Dubai and the United Arab Emirates as the centre for knowledge and research. MBRF aims to empower future generations and enable them to devise sustainable solutions to facilitate the process of knowledge and research in the Arab World. The Foundation is committed to create knowledge-based societies throughout the region by funding research projects, activities, and initiatives. It nurtures ideas and innovation while focusing on its main pillars which are education, entrepreneurship, and research & development.

About Coursera

Coursera was launched in 2012 by two Stanford Computer Science professors, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, with a mission to provide universal access to world-class learning. It is now one of the largest online learning platforms in the world, with 129 million registered learners as of June 30, 2023. Coursera partners with over 300 leading university and industry partners to offer a broad catalog of content and credentials, including courses, Specializations, Professional Certificates, Guided Projects, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Institutions around the world use Coursera to upskill and reskill their employees, citizens, and students in fields such as data science, technology, and business. Coursera became a Delaware public benefit corporation and a B Corp in February 2021.

About the ‘FutureSkills4All’ initiative

The initiative, which grew out of thorough planning, collaboration, and community consultation, is tailored to the specific needs and ambitions of the participating Arab States. It includes four strategic tracks: transferable skills to build capabilities that can be adapted to different roles and industries, including soft and basic digital skills and career preparation skills; entrepreneurial skills to equip entrepreneurs with the knowledge needed for successful ventures, social and technological entrepreneurship; technical skills aimed at qualifying and retraining citizens for in-demand jobs in specific areas such as AI, data science, and logistics; and finally, industry-specific skills aimed at training employees in the most in-demand sectors such as public sector, healthcare, financial services, sustainability, space, energy, and agriculture.