Emirati youth can learn the value of money through part-time jobs, writes Taryam al Subaihi.
Teach youth the value of money - and make them earn it
Emirati cultural values prepare the nation's children for a promising future of leadership. At a very young age, Emiratis are taught the importance of responsibility for others and the value of working with their families to reach the common goals of their tribes and their communities. Based on these principles, the UAE now boasts one of the highest proportions of young business leaders in the world.
Many companies, both in the private and government sector, offer excellent leadership programmes for young Emiratis and rigorous training to develop leadership. However, professional training cannot be a substitute for the invaluable lessons teenagers can learn from part-time work.
Part-time jobs remain unpopular, causing some difficulty for young Emiratis when they first enter the workforce, especially in the private sector and areas of the Government that are modelled on more competitive corporate structures.
It was a breath of fresh air to hear recent comments from the Minister of Labour regarding laws that would permit students and housewives to take up part-time employment. As Saqr Ghobash, the Minister of Labour, told the Federal National Council last week, young people can also learn the value of money by earning it themselves at an early age.
This is a lesson that needs to be instiled at the earliest stages of one's career. Around ever corner lurks an ambitious bank loan agent whose job is to lure young professionals into easy credit, which too often can lead to a never-ending struggle with debt. Without the appreciation of money that comes through part-time jobs, many unsuspecting young Emiratis can compromise their future by falling into debt at an early age.
Part-time jobs also offer experiences that are essential in future careers. The subject of time management has become the focus of much discussion between expatriate managers and new Emirati graduates. Most managers expect all employees to understand the importance of managing their daily schedules to meet their commitments.
If new employees mismanage their time from the first day, it can create an immediate negative impression and a point of friction. In an ideal world, first impressions would not brand any new employee, but this is not often the case. This may be part of the reason that many young Emiratis move from job to job early in their careers until they learn to properly manage their schedules. Part-time jobs hone this skill ahead of more responsible positions.
Working through high school or university can also open people's eyes to the benefits of saving. It can take years to learn the importance of putting a little aside for a rainy day. By the time this lesson is fully understood, it is often too late.
In a country rich with so many cultures living side by side, good communication between colleagues in the work place is fundamental to a positive work environment. This is a responsibility shared on all sides, but a young Emirati who has prepared at a younger age will be better positioned.
Many parents may feel reluctant to allow their children to work while studying. This is understandable, as parents do not want their children's education to suffer because of stress or other commitments. After all, the UAE provides for citizens and residents and there is not always an incentive to find part-time work in order to make ends meet.
That is why parents need to understand how part-time jobs provide another type of education in terms of interpersonal, organisational and time-management skills.
While programmes of awareness could benefit Emirati parents, there is a need to create initiatives for Emirati children as well. Such programmes should not only offer part-time jobs, but also offer the essential lessons that need to be learnt by students before they begin their first years of professional life.
Taryam al Subaihi is a journalist from Abu Dhabi who specialises in corporate communications