Professionals from the education sector and SAP executives at the end of the panel discussion at the Expo 2020 Dubai.
Staff Reporter, Gulf Today
In line with SAP’s vision of helping the world run better and improving people’s lives, the global technology company delivered an informative panel on “Yesterday’s skills won’t do tomorrow’s jobs: Closing the Digital Skills Gap with Public-Private Partnerships.” The panel was held at the SAP House during Expo 2020 Dubai theme week of Knowledge and Learning, attended by professionals from the education sector along with SAP executives.
The panel highlighted SAP’s position as the world’s leading provider in Enterprise Application Software and focused on its mission to support developing leaders of the future, namely today’s youth. With its Ecosystem and academic institutions, SAP drives to close the digital skills gap, enabling youth and organizations to overcome the challenges of digital skills in today’s emerging digital economy.
SAP continues to host various initiatives to further drive this goal, in addition to its corporate social responsibility signature programs, including Digital Skills for Today.
The themed week will also see Dr. Karina Edmonds, SVP and Global Head of Academies and University Alliances, at SAP, speak at a high-level panel on the Future of Learning for All: EdTech and Learning Equity. Additionally, SAP University Alliances and SAP Next-Gen will host the second edition of SAP Academic Community Conference MENA in collaboration with Zayed University and the University Competence Center Magdeburg, where faculty members, instructors and SAP Next-Gen academic and innovation community members will discuss the future of education, work, technology and sustainability, along with workshops on SAP’s latest technologies including SAP S/4HANA, SAP Analytics, and Industry 4.0.
Commenting on the panel session during RewirEd Summit 2021, Dr. Karina Edmonds said: “SAP is committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a focus on Quality Education and Gender Equality in collaboration with academic communities to build digital skills. Our global University Alliances Program and Next-Gen fosters a community enabling youth to learn, share and be inspired to address the digital needs to improve people’s lives”.
Part of SAP’s educational programs active in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is the SAP Dual Study Program, which leverages partnerships with leading universities to allow students to enlist within their curriculum 6–12-month courses that combine university theoretical studies with the opportunity for students to obtain SAP certification. This ongoing initiative is supported by 22 SAP Dual Study Program partner universities across the region, which has so far resulted in a total of 1,850 students trained in MENA.
Another initiative is the SAP Young Professionals Program, a comprehensive digital skills training for the industry which is spread across 2-3 months and is offered to top talented graduates from universities, to provide them with functional and technical knowledge of SAP’s latest software with certifications accepted by companies (on the globe/in the region) respectively. Participants graduate as SAP Associate Consultants, giving them a much-needed competitive edge in the job market. In the MENA region, this program created more than 1,700 sustainable work opportunities with over 95% placement rate.
Commenting on these programs for students, Dr. Safwat Altal, Assistant Professor – Business, Faculty of Business, Higher Colleges of Technology, said: “These initiatives not only push students further but open more doors in their future and give them a competitive edge in the job market. I applaud the private sector’s contribution such as SAP initiatives and appreciate the effort taken today toward building a better future and educating our youth with the skills they will need for tomorrow.”
In addition, SAP Digital Literacy and Workforce Readiness programs have impacted more than 77,000 lives across the MENA region and Turkey, while the Ecosystem Builder program has boosted the capacity of the Change-maker community to grow in the digital world, especially after the pandemic, reaching 135,000 beneficiaries.
Commenting on these initiatives, Alexandra van der Ploeg, Head of Global Corporate Social Responsibility at SAP said: “Preparing for the digital future is a global collective action that needs to be a shared responsibility to inspire and empower the younger generation. By fostering an ecosystem of youth communities and non-profits across the region, our Ecosystem Builder is another program that aims to boost the capacity of young entrepreneurial change-makers to thrive in the increasingly digital economy and collaborate towards a more resilient MENA ecosystem”.
Meanwhile, the future of print in a digital world was in question even before COVID-19. Yet, according to regional experts, in discussion at a special edition of Canon Frontiers of Innovation during Expo 2020 Dubai, there is good reason for cautious optimism in Africa and the Middle East. Although the global print market experienced a pandemic-induced slump in 2020, future growth is forecast.
Expo 2020 was an apt setting to explore this complex topic. “Printing is about making memories that last a lifetime and Expo is all about experiences,” said Dina Storey, Director of Sustainability Operations for Expo 2020 Dubai. Storey was joined on the panel by Temitope Ekundayo, CEO of Printivo Ltd, Nigeria; Zahir Hassan, Managing Director of Power Print, Dubai and Dennis Micheni, CEO of DiscoverBrands3D, Kenya.
The pandemic brought challenges as well as interesting opportunities. “COVID-19 provided an opportunity for us to pause, reflect and assess how to best develop the print industry in the future,” said an upbeat Hassan. He highlighted new demand for health-education signage, tremendous growth in printing for e-commerce and delivery businesses.
It has stimulated a shift toward a more hybrid print/digital world with the widespread adoption of QR codes and customers began to look at alternative means to print, with online, on-demand and smaller runs, easier updates, and reduced storage requirements. “Today digital, on-demand printing is the norm,” said Ekundayo. “When we launched in Nigeria in 2013, printing online was considered ‘impossible’. He explained how technology has bridged the gap, enabling printers to deliver high-quality at speed. Turnaround times continue to shorten with increased automation, AI and workflow integration improving speed and efficiencies.
To meet changing customer desires, print has begun to position itself as a creative industry. Research for Canon’s 2021 ‘Creating Customer Value’ Insight Report, found 80% of brands wanted more creative input from their print service providers and businesses in the region are responding: “We are a tech company that provides creative solutions. Creativity in design is important; it allows you to customise and edit everything simultaneously, ensuring a perfect end product,” shared Ekundayo. Hassan concurred; “The human touch is an aspect of printing that will ensure longevity.”
Crucially, the technology is now available for more creative print solutions. 3D printing is an excellent example and is forecast to grow at over 17%. While printing on a wider variety of media is also proving popular, even on traditionally challenging surfaces like leather and fabrics, as well as environmentally friendly plastic alternatives, such as Tyvek.
The personal touch is driving growth in certain print sectors, as marketing becomes more customer-centric. “In this age of the individual, there’s enormous potential for personalised printing at scale,” said Ekundayo.
Brands are seeing limitations to digital campaigns and customers are reportedly experiencing digital fatigue. Print provides an irreplaceable offline experience, creating collateral that reflects personal choice, from apparel to customised travel itineraries and discount vouchers. Integrated, highly personalised campaigns, with both online and print elements, can make marketing come alive in a way that is not possible in a digital-only execution.
Growing consumer demand for environmentally-friendly products has put sustainability high on the print agenda and this was a particularly important area for Storey. “Expo 2020 Dubai embodies the principles of sustainable development. We’re excited to work closely with Canon, to see how the printing industry innovates to be sustainable – environmentally, socially and economically.”
Levelling up to meet sustainability goals, Dennis Micheni of DiscoverBrands 3D Printing in Kenya recently received an award in the Under 35 Environment Category Youth Agenda Kenya 2021. His company is piloting an innovative project that recycles PET waste into an affordable 3D printing filament. “We are creating a whole value chain by generating value for our products where we can collect what we create; there’s no loop, no leakage,” he explains.
Canon has a longstanding commitment to sustainability, as the first company to recycle printer cartridges more than 30 years ago. According to Mai Youssef, Corporate Communications and Marketing Services Director, Canon CNA, their green credentials are industry-leading; “Recently we have been recognised by CDP, for climate change and water security. We have also been rated in the top 1% of companies in the EcoVadis Sustainability Performance Overview.”
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