Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 March 2018

Hundreds of volunteers sought for WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 next month

500 have applied so far but 1,000 needed to help with education competition

Volunteers Hamad Daharoon and Easa Abu Taher prepare for WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 in October. Vidhyaa for The National
Volunteers Hamad Daharoon and Easa Abu Taher prepare for WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 in October. Vidhyaa for The National

Five hundred residents have signed up to volunteer at the world's largest vocational skills event in Abu Dhabi - but another 500 are still needed.

The capital was awarded the competition for this year, which promises to bring tens of thousands of pupils together at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).

A month after they launched an online registration portal, organisers have received 500 volunteers for the event, which will take place in October from October 15 -18.

There are currently 77 member countries and regions in WorldSkills, most of whom are likely compete in Abu Dhabi. Around 80,000 pupils from across the UAE are expected to attend the event, which promotes hands-on professions ranging from chefs and electricians to aircraft technicians and carpenters.

A further 10,000 international visitors are also expected.

For the second time this year, organisers have begun approaching universities for volunteers, and while a recent visit to Zayed University proved to be successful, many more are still needed. So far 357 volunteers have been recruited and assigned, and 150 are currently being interviewed and assigned into their positions

Heather Kennedy, WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 Volunteer Coordinator, said that attracting volunteers has been “challenging”

“The culture of volunteering isn't as present as it could be. Currently we have two groups of ambassadors," she said.

"These are the 13 star ambassadors who have been active since it was first announced that Abu Dhabi would host WorldSkills. The second group are the other volunteers of which there are 500.”

Volunteer ambassadors Hamad Baharoon, 22 and Easa Abu Taher, 26, are hoping that other young people join them in helping to host what promises to be a packed event.

Eisa Abu Taher, who is in the second year of a computer engineering degree at Abu Dhabi University, said that volunteering changed his life.

“I used to be very shy and never spoke to people," he said.

"On my first volunteering job I was put in front of an audience and asked to talk about WorldSkills".

He said his confidence has steadily improved since.

Baharoon said that with "so many countries competing and participating, not only do you get to meet new people but you also get to make connections with the outside world".

In spite of the benefits, only a handful of Baharoon and Abu Taher’s friends and classmates have agreed to volunteer.

“Maybe it is because it’s for free and they think, 'why not volunteer somewhere where we can get paid'?” Abu Taher said.

“Or is it because we are lazy and are used to people doing things for us."

But Ms Kennedy said that “we’ve gotten excellent uptake when we got out to universities. In particular at the female campuses".

"We were at Zayed University two days ago and we couldn’t keep up. Our booth was overrun with so many girls.”