x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Start in IT and keep going from there, schoolgirls told

Experts say better careers counselling was needed to address the oversupply of business and IT graduates.

DUBAI // In a move to overcome an excess of students with degrees in information technology and business, schoolgirls were advised yesterday to consider more diverse careers.

Fatma al Marri, the chief executive of the Dubai School Agency at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, which regulates schools and universities in the emirate, said schoolgirls lacked career guidance and were often unaware of the variety of opportunities IT skills opened up for them.

"It's important to show that IT is important whether you will be in medicine or engineering," she said. "It's wider than simply information technology. IT is everywhere but it's important not to limit yourself to IT or business related subjects."

She was speaking at Microsoft DigiGirlz day, an annual event at the University of Wollongong in Dubai, where more than 200 schoolgirls learnt about careers involving IT with workshops and guidance from female professionals.

Workshop topics included Facebook, filmmaking, photography and programming.

Ms al Marri said better careers counselling was needed to address the oversupply of business and IT graduates.

"This event is about enabling students to make decisions about their own careers, especially for those in public schools where we have an issue in career counselling, and students aren't able to make decisions," she said.

While more than half of Dubai's graduates last year were in business, IT was joint second with engineering, accounting for nine per cent of graduates.

Ridwan Abshir, 14, has been using computers since she was nine and already has her heart set on a career as a web designer.

"You can make change in the future," said the Westminster School student. "I want to create something that whole families will talk about and be interested in."

Shraya Ramash, 14, also attends Westminster School. She has many interests and does not yet know where she will channel them, but is keen to explore all the options available.

"I'm interested in IT but a lot of other things as well, like medicine, music. There are a lot of things to try before I figure out what's best for me."