x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Investing in interns is money well-spent

Why internships are so important in the UAE

As an independent entrepreneur, I receive many requests from students who want to do an internship in my company.

Just recently, internship possibilities in the UAE became a hot topic at the innovative "speed-dating" media event hosted by Middlesex University in Dubai, where graduates-to-be mingled with professionals from different industry sectors.

Internships are in high demand in our country. International internship experiences are necessary if one wants to compete in the global job market, but shouldn't local internships be available and attractive on the same level as international internships?

Even though some schools and organisations in the UAE, such as the School of Culinary and Finishing Arts in Dubai, Emirates Foundation and the Abu Dhabi Vocational Education and Training Institute, offer more internships nowadays, many employers are not making the effort to hire interns. Why? Because the focus of our Government has been on hiring employees to work full-time in order to keep our economy strong.

Instead, Government entities encourage Emirati graduates to go overseas for internships to get those desired "international skills".

This is one of the ways we import foreign knowledge into our society. Yet I wonder if it would be more productive to have more internship opportunities available in the UAE for Emirati graduates, and for international interns to come and learn from our business perspective, culture and our skills.

Internships are more accessible for students living in the US and Europe because of the financial support and stronger cooperation between universities and businesses.

As a graduate, having an internship listed on your CV is a great advantage. Having an international internship can make your CV stand out from the crowd.

I think it would be worth an investment to improve the internship opportunities across the UAE. Its implementation requires four important steps. First, the Government should speak out about the legal matters as well as advantages of internships so that more employers become aware of their benefits. Second, partnerships between the industries and universities need to be strengthened by providing special programmes that integrate practical experiences into curriculums. Third, by creating such a suitable platform, the perceived value of an internship as a "mutual learning process" increases. Fourth, student loans and funding should become more available for everyone who is considering obtaining an internship in the UAE, as it is in other countries.

So, as employers, let's try to build more connections with the universities and schools as well as create more internships so that our young people feel more supported and valued with their "fresh" contributions to our economy. Graduates will feel more secure about their future because it will increase their chances of a career opportunity, our partnerships on all levels will be strengthened and our common goals as a welcoming nation can be achieved.

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