ABU DHABI // Sixty Emirati students from federal universities will travel to Germany on Sunday to begin a six-week internship at a semiconductor plant in Dresden. The programme is part of a push to get students working in the fields in which the Abu Dhabi Government is investing. They will be the second batch of interns to make the trip, but this year's group is three times the size of last year's.
Mohammed al Shamsi, 23, said he hoped the experience would help him secure a job. He recently finished a higher diploma in electrical engineering at Al Ain Men's College. "If I was successful there I will try to participate in their company," he said. He eventually plans to do a master's degree. Half the interns are girls, which Dr Mugheer al Khaili, the director general of the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), said was a deliberate choice.
"A lot of girls, especially in the remote areas, are sitting at home and this is not healthy," he said. "We need to bring businesses to their areas, and create more jobs in remote areas." Abu Dhabi had invested huge funds in the semiconductor sector, he added. "Abu Dhabi owns roughly 20 per cent of the microchip industry," he said. "How can we prepare our students for the future? Adec is the entity, that will make it happen in terms of human capital."
The Dresden plant is run by Globalfoundaries, a partnership between Abu Dhabi's Advanced Technology Investment Company (Atic) and the American computer chip manufacturer Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). In March 2009, Atic pledged US$3.6 billion (Dh13bn) to double Globalfoundries' capacity in Dresden and New York. Production of silicon wafers is projected to increase by roughly 200,000 wafers per month by 2012 as a result. The wafers are used to make microchips.
But Dr al Khaili conceded that getting students into hard sciences was no easy task. "We have limited human capital and we need to use that wealth wisely." He said the public school system was a major barrier to employment, as it is failing to produce graduates able to start university without taking remedial English and maths. He said Adec was investing heavily to address these shortfalls. "Otherwise we will continue depending on expats," he said.
"Every entity in Abu Dhabi wants to Emiratise its organisation," he said. "To find the people is not easy, to convince the people is not easy." email@example.com