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Higher education and private sector needed to increase Emiratisation

At the fourth Education Conference, Emirati academic Dr Abdullah Al Shaiba said greater co-ordination was needed to overcome unemployment at a time of growing population.

ABU DHABI // Industry and universities need to improve collaboration to provide job options for young Emiratis.

On Tuesday at the fourth Education Conference, Emirati academic Dr Abdullah Al Shaiba said greater co-ordination was needed for the country to overcome unemployment at a time of growing population.

Dr Al Shaiba said there were many challenges to Emiratisation in the private sector, where less than 10 per cent of the workforce were nationals.

“There needs to be a national framework of skills embodied in the curriculum that are regulated by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research,” he said.

Dr Al Shaiba conducted research with students from the Higher Colleges of Technology and Ajman University, and Government agencies, to pinpoint the obstacles Emiratis found in private-sector work.

They included salary packages less than public-sector jobs, the distance between home and the workplace, and working hours.

Unemployment among Emiratis is as high as 14 per cent, Federal National Council statistics show.

“The private sector needs to create around 20,000 jobs a year to cater to the 100,000 to 200,000 young Emiratis going into the work force in the next 10 years,” Dr Al Shaiba said.

“There also needs to be unified policy to prepare students for employment, which is combined between Tanmia and the higher education institutions.”

Tanmia and the Tawteen Council are Government agencies working to reduce unemployment among Emiratis.

Dr Al Shaiba said putting more emphasis on practical subjects and Arabic was crucial.

“I see many students struggling with this,” he said.

“They struggle when they go to the workplace and are asked to deal with documents in Arabic, to present in Arabic and attend meetings in Arabic, based on the emphasis on English language during their higher education.”

Dr David Guile, a researcher from the Institute of Education at the University of London, said internships were still integral to finding work in the UAE and around the world.

Many institutions in the UAE, including Zayed and Middlesex universities, have introduced compulsory internships for degrees, to ensure students are ready for the workplace on graduation.

“Internships detach students from the academic work and the students see how to work with the employers’ feedback,” Dr Guile said.

But many students still slip through the cracks, either from lack of guidance or not making the most of their experiences.

“From my research [in the UK], many students say they are more geared up to getting the highest calibre of degree instead,” Dr Guile said.

mswan@thenational.ae

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