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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Carpenters, florists and chefs meet to build vocation nation in UAE

The World Skills competition coming up in October has a serious message for Emiratis about finding a trade.

The head of a technical skills competition to be held in Abu Dhabi in the autumn believes Emiratis can will be attracted to less conventional jobs and exposed to traditional trades.

Emirates Skills chief executive Ali Al Marzouqi said that from bakers to aviation technicians, there will be a greater push toward getting young people trained, giving them more options for their future employment.

He was speaking as Abu Dhabi prepared to host World Skills in October, which is set to attract more than 50,000 school pupils from around the country.

They will be in the audiences as 1,300 participants from more than 70 countries take on 51 challenges.

This will include competitions to find the best florist, the most outstanding carpenter, patisserie chef and mechanic.

Other contests include challenge robotics and web designers.

Major companies will sent recruiters to the event and they will be looking to identify the brightest in their chosen fields during the event, which takes place between October 15 and 18 at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

Mr Al Marzooqi said: “We will begin to see Emiratis in new fields.

“They are getting more exposure to vocational skills, and we are providing them with all the expertise and knowledge they need for that.”

Earlier this year, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, told young people at the Mohammed bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations event to think beyond “comfortable” government jobs and to compete with the rest of the world.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, told the same event that said the country needed a “generation of engineers”.

Those goals are part of a broader drive to encourage pupils to pursue science and technology in school and on to university.

Mr Al Marzooqi said that learning the ropes in for a hands-on, skilled job could present opportunities.

“A person might think, okay I know how to cook, but the question is how accurately are you cooking,” he said.

“Observers are testing every single detail – like putting this type of baking powder before this on.”

Similarly, a student competing for the florist category “will learn not only how to arrange a flower bouquet, but how to arrange for weddings, funerals, like how to do a flower arch, or the red roses heart they use for Valentine’s.”

“So when he or she comes out of the competition, he or she has all the skills of the profession and can go ahead and open their own shop.”

Along with what are essentially hands-on trades, there are also technical categories such as robotics, mechanical engineering and information technology and cabling – will be a catch for companies who go to World Skills to recruit talents.

A contestant in IT will have to connect computers to printers on the first day of the competition. The next day, his task will be to add cameras, the third day to make the network more complicated and so on.

“So by the end of the four days, it is like he set up an entire office,” said Mr Al Marzouqi.

Looking for Emirati contestants in some fields was not an easy job.

For instance, organisers could not find any Emirati aged between 17 and 22 to run for the physiotherapy category, despite the fact that the only time the UAE won a World Skills medal was in physiotherapy.

“It does not mean that there is no Emirati physiotherapist, but there aren’t any that fit the age requirement,” he said.

Participating in World Skills will benefit education. The latest technologies and tools purchased for the contest will be distributed to schools and universities. This will provide wider training and learning opportunities for youngsters, the organiser said.

Hosting the event will also provide a major boost for tourism. More than 30 hotels have been booked by participants.

“And many of them are accompanied by family members and crews and even the press, so they will be exploring Abu Dhabi and the country as well,” said Mr Al Marzooqi.

“There will be a section where you can try your skills, so if a member of the public likes what he sees and wants to try for themselves, then they can,” said Mr Al Marzouqi.