MADINAT ZAYED // For decades, young people in Al Gharbia have faced the prospect of leaving their families and homes behind if they wanted to pursue careers. But as part of efforts by the Government to stem migration from the vast region, students and job-seekers yesterday attended the first Al Gharbia Career Fair at the Madinat Zayed's Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) campus. The event was supported by the Western Region Development Council (WRDC) and will move to the HCT in Ruwais later this week.
Although Al Gharbia accounts for more than 80 per cent of Abu Dhabi Emirate's area, it has just eight per cent of the population. In recent years, with limited job opportunities in the vast and isolated region, young people have had to move to cities such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai to find work. But with millions of dirhams being invested to entice people back to this resource-rich area, the situation is changing. The fair was designed to support employment opportunities and career development in the region, said Mohammed al Hosani, acting director of the WRDC's regional development division.
"Lots of people here cannot always reach Abu Dhabi for these types of events, so it is the WRDC's job to bring things to the region," Mr Hosani said. "We thought that by directly bringing the students to meet the consultants and representatives from the companies they would be able to build a link." Government initiatives such as Tanmia have a presence at the fair, coaching students and job seekers on such things as how to put together a CV, interview techniques and how to find jobs to suit individual skills.
Some of the largest employers in Al Gharbia participated in the first day of the fair, along with several private sector companies newer to the region. Representatives from 19 companies, government entities and development organisations in Al Gharbia and beyond manned stands. Fares al Mazroui, from Madinat Zayed, was among those who attended. With just two weeks to go before finishing his course at the HCT, he is interested in a position as a manager's assistant, either in the government or in the private sector.
Only a generation ago, Mazroui family life revolved around their desert environment, he said. Now, Mr Mazroui, 21, the eldest of seven children, is ready to follow his own path. I want a good future for me and my family," he said. "When I have a good job and a house, I will get married and if I find a good job, I'll stay here." At 21, Matar al Mansoori, is insistent he will buck the trend of leaving Al Gharbia. He has been studying applied business and technology.
"My father's generation had an old experience, where they worked by themselves to provide just what was needed for life," he said. "I see my future in Madinat Zayed, I might want to open a small shop here after I finish my degree or work for the WRDC. I feel like there are many opportunities for young people now." Hamdan al Mazroui, 20, is the student council president at HCT Madinat Zayed. In his last year, he is looking for a job, perhaps in the local municipality or the private sector; he may also start his own small business.
"Even for my older brother, who is 32, things were different - you just finished school and that was it," he said. "Now you have to have high school and higher education." One exhibitor, Abu Dhabi Gas Industries (Gasco), is hiring more than 1,000 new staff, said Mohammed Abdullah of the company's plant training and development section. "We hope to employ them all in 2009, including engineers and technicians," he said.
Al Gharbia has the country's largest oil fields and refineries and most of its gas fields, so there is a need for specialists, said Dr Philip Quirke, director of the Madinat Zayed and Ruwais HCTs. "We wanted students from Grade 10 onwards to link with employers to raise awareness about jobs in the region, such as the need for professions like engineering," he said. The Madinat Zayed colleges opened to students in 2006 and will have its first graduates at the end of this academic year. There are 650 students enrolled at the Madinat Zayed and Ruwais campuses.
The career fair will hold a women-only session today, before moving to Ruwais on Wednesday and Thursday. email@example.com