x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

UAE unemployment: Women urged to join private sector internships

“If you want to learn instead of sitting at home, get your experience from the private sector,” said Shamsa Al Taie, director of student affairs at Zayed University. “Rather then being unemployed, it’s better to at least get experience."

ABU DHABI // Internships and role models in the private sector are ideal ways to lower the number of unemployed Emirati women, a university director says.

Women make up 80 per cent of the number of unemployed nationals.

“If you want to learn instead of sitting at home, get your experience from the private sector,” said Shamsa Al Taie, director of student affairs at Zayed University. “Rather then being unemployed, it’s better to at least get experience.

“Not so long ago girls didn’t go to school or to university, or to work, and now look how things have changed already.

“So it’s time things changed regarding the private sector, too.”

She said her university planned to place students in internships as early as their first year.

Ms Al Taie said this integration, as part of the Emiratisation initiative Absher, was a way to gain work experience that would enable national men and women to work their way up the career ladder.

“We are lacking in career guidance in the UAE,” Ms Al Taie said. “People want to fast-track into the government sector but it’s a competitive world, so I think the culture will change as the UAE changes.”

The Absher Initiative is led by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs.

Working with the Higher Colleges of Technology, and Zayed, UAE and Khalifa universities, the ministry wants to create a forum for discussion so Emirati students can learn about the benefits of the private sector.

“We need to help them rediscover the private sector, changing the negative ideas about it,” said Nasser Al Hamli, assistant under secretary at the ministry.

“We will highlight Emiratis already working within the private sector so they can share their experiences, as well as highlighting the many opportunities that are there.

“Nowadays, the private sector is considered the major employer of the future and we need to make sure Emiratis are aware of this and are planning this for the future.”

Each university will establish its own programme, from guest speakers to field trips and internships.

Ms Al Taie said private-sector placements would be assessed to determine the path of the project.

She said inspirational guest speakers and alumni who were now in the private sector would be key to Absher’s success.

Mr Al Hamli said challenges such as lower salaries and shift work had been a deterrent, but it was time for change.

“All the negative aspects will be focused on in the campaign,” he said. “Yes, there is the idea that the packages are lower, but you start low and work your way up.

“You grow. The hours in the Abu Dhabi Government are now 8am until 4pm, so there’s no difference and overtime is a factor everywhere.”

mswan@thenational.ae