Young Emiratis showcase vocational skills
ABU DHABI // Cyber security, electrical installation, landscaping and nursing were among more than 50 skills displayed by about 400 Emirati students in the EmiratesSkill National Competition this week.
The annual event, organised by the Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, aims to encourage young citizens to pursue an education and careers in craft and technical fields.
Ali Al Marzouqi, president of EmiratesSkills, said the event was crucial to raise awareness of the importance of skills among the Emirati community.
“We urge citizens to diversify the careers they pursue and not only consider the banking sector and office jobs,” said Mr Al Marzouqi on Tuesday, the first of the two-day competition.
“We need engineers, technicians and programmers because these are the jobs that are coming.”
Mr Al Marzouqi said Emiratis needed to know that pursuing vocational careers was nothing to be ashamed of.
“If you are asking what will happen post-oil, you see it right here – citizens working as electricians, welders, cooks and nurses.”
He said it was important that young nationals understood many of the featured careers came with good pay, and that there are many ways to gain experience, such as vocational high schools, colleges and institutes that offer certificates, diplomas and bachelor’s degrees.
In her final year of a nursing degree at the Fatima College of Health Sciences, Reem Al Menhali, 21, said she was at the event to promote a well-paying career that critically needs more Emiratis.
“I not only enjoy the field, but as there is a shortage of nurses I feel I’m serving my country – it makes me very proud,” she said while standing over a mannequin simulating a car-crash victim.
Ms Al Menhali said many Emiratis were surprised to find out that she was a nurse.
“‘Are you sure you’re Emirati?’ they ask. People need to know that we are needed in hospitals. Emirati patients are requesting me by name because they are more comfortable with me sharing their culture,” she said.
Competing in the Landscape Gardening competition, Mohammed Al Khateri said he was enjoying the challenge.
“Not only am I benefiting physically but you also have to use your creativity to create a garden that looks nice,” said Mr Al Khateri, 18, who is enrolled in one of Abu Dhabi’s secondary technical schools.
“As Emiratis we should never be ashamed of any work.”
The event also was focused on instilling valuable life skills. Competing in the Electrical Installation for Juniors challenge, one of six competitions for those between 12 and 15, Aisha Al Hashmi said she was learning a useful skill.
“If electrical work needs to be done at home or there is a problem, at least I will know how to fix it or what the problem is,” said Aisha, a Grade 9 pupil at the Applied Technology High School.
The national competition features 51 challenges, up from 28 last year, with competitors having to complete a timed project in a certain field.
Winners this week will be awarded up to Dh20,000 for placing first, Dh15,000 for second and Dh10,000 for third.
They will also get the chance to represent the UAE at this year’s WorldSkills, dubbed the Olympics of vocational education. It is held every two years and will be hosted by Abu Dhabi in October.
Also at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, the international competition is set to include 77 countries and attract 10,000 participants.
Updated: April 11, 2017 04:00 AM