Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 14 November 2019

UAE jobseeker scheme for women from developing countries set to be expanded

Initiative boosts employment prospects of women from difficult backgrounds

A number of Dubai hotels are giving temporary work placements to women from developing countries. Left to Right: Dorcas Danquah, Quarhie Gloria and Vickylisa Ackah at the Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Waterfront, Business Bay. Antonie Robertson / The National
A number of Dubai hotels are giving temporary work placements to women from developing countries. Left to Right: Dorcas Danquah, Quarhie Gloria and Vickylisa Ackah at the Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Waterfront, Business Bay. Antonie Robertson / The National

A scheme to help women from developing countries find work in the UAE has been expanded following its early success.

Evolvin’ Women, a UAE social enterprise set up in 2016, helps train jobseekers from abroad by providing work placements in hotels in Dubai.

Earlier this year, The National reported how the initiative had found work for Ghanaian national Antoinette Allah-Mensah at The Retreat Dubai MGallery by Sofitel.

Since then, four more women from Ghana have also been placed on the staff at the Hilton and Radisson Blu hotels in the city.

All participants have to undergo a rigorous 12-week training programme in their own country to qualify, before they are flown to the Emirates.

“It’s made such a huge difference to my life,” said Saviour Appam, who is on a six-month placement with DoubleTree by Hilton in Business Bay, Dubai, and is from the city of Ho in Ghana.

“It’s an opportunity that I wouldn’t have had back home and I’m learning new things from it all the time.”

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When Ms Appam, now 32, was much younger she became pregnant and her decision to keep her baby caused problems within her family.

She left high school early and struggled to cope with her new life as a young mother.

Today, she hopes her time with Evolvin’ Women will help create new opportunities once she returns home.

She said she aimed to become an advocate for women’s rights and an “inspiration for women who have been the victims of sexual violence”.

“I’ve been looking for an opportunity to turn my life around and I hope that Evolvin’ Women can help me build the career in hospitality I have always wanted,” she said.

“It's going to help me teach people new skills when I go back to work in Ghana.

“It is a different environment here compared to home but it's a very exciting opportunity and it's one that I'm determined to take.”

Ms Appam was joined in Dubai by three of her compatriots who have also been given work at the Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Waterfront.

Vickylisa Ackah, 24, commis chef, said the opportunity to work in Dubai was too good to turn down.

“In Ghana it’s rare to get an opportunity to work outside of the country,” she said.

“I’m going to use the experience to learn from the different cultures here and open my own business when I go back home.”

With only a few internships on her CV and no vocational training, Ms Ackah struggled to start her career in the hospitality industry in Ghana.

Now she is hoping to start her own non-profit organisation for rape victims when she returns to her home country.

Gloria Quarshie, 25, now a waitress in Dubai, also said the opportunity to pick up new skills in the UAE was a once in a lifetime chance. Growing up in Ghana she was one of five children raised by a single mother.

“When I return to Ghana I want to mentor young ladies in my community to commit to hard work and stay focused on their dreams,” she said.

“This type of initiative will keep young people off the streets and help reduce unemployment in the long-term. Less unemployment will also help to reduce the level of crime.”

The efforts and camaraderie of the women brought over by Evolvin’ Women has been welcomed by the hotels.

“We’re delighted to have them here,” said Remco Werkhoven, general manager of DoubleTree by Hilton.

“It fits in with Hilton’s ethos of giving opportunities to people with the right attitude.”

David Allan, general manager of Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Waterfront, also said the women had proved an enormous asset.

“It’s a breath of fresh air to have people here with such a refreshing view on life,” he said.

“Women in leadership is a key campaign for Radisson Blu and we want to highlight the importance of having females in key leadership roles.”

Assia Riccio, 34, from Italy, is the founder of Evolvin’ Women. The scheme is funded by a network of private and public companies including the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Dubai Business Women Council and the Ghana Tourism Authority.

“There’ll be another round of training in February and we’re expecting to have 10 more women placed in Dubai hotels by May,” she said.

“The women are on a contract and paid a salary like any other employee in the UAE.

“The hotels also pay for their flights here and when they leave the country, in keeping with the country’s labour laws.”

Updated: February 2, 2019 02:10 PM

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