FULLY online courses from reputable universities can provide a solution for filling the gaps at the senior level in the Middle East’s construction sector, said an academic expert, referring to the study, “Citing the Regional Workforce Study 2013: A Skills Gap Analysis” which was commissioned by Dubai International Academic City and conducted by Deloitte.

“In the imminent lead-up to Expo 2020, the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region, we expect to see a rise in the number of construction professionals wanting to take advantage of the senior skills gap and looking for ways in which they can develop their skills, including enrolling on online project management programmes,” said Dr Roula Michaelides, director of programmes for online MSc in Project Management at the University of Liverpool.

With Dubai set to build the largest expo site at Dubai World Central in Jebel Ali to host the exhibition in 2020, experts predict that several sectors of the economy are likely to directly benefit from this global event in the next six years.

“One sector in particular that will gain significant benefits is the construction industry, sparking a demand for senior construction professionals in the Gulf,” Dr Roula said.

She pointed out that building and construction project management skills are most lacking at a senior level, according to 43 per cent of the companies surveyed.

“Studying in a specialised postgraduate programme, such as an online MSc in Project Management, can provide professionals with essential skills and advanced knowledge of contemporary issues such as managing risk and uncertainty in unpredictable environments, selecting and allocating resources, and integrating sustainability into project management plans.

“Data from the University of Liverpool’s student cohort demonstrate how readily received the online model is among professionals, with many of those in the online MSc in Project Management programmes working for large corporations or construction contractors in the UAE,” she said.