With an eye on developing an Emirati labour force that can meet the requirements of local employers, the Executive Council (EC) of Abu Dhabi recently announced two new programmes that will boost the provision of education and professional training to UAE nationals. The government’s plans include the expansion of a scholarship fund for university students, as well as the establishment of additional vocational schools at the secondary level.
On June 13 the EC announced that it had approved the establishment of a new scholarship and academic delegations administration system to be run by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), the primary regulator of the emirate’s education system. The EC also said that it would grant an additional Dh197m ($54m) over the next four years to expand the emirate’s scholarship programmes for local students.
In the wake of the EC’s decision, ADEC officials announced that its scholarship committee will be responsible for drafting new scholarship-related regulations, as well as identifying the countries, institutions, disciplines and majors that will be covered by the expanded system.
ADEC already offers scholarships to more than 1800 students, mostly for individuals enrolled in technical and professional areas of study, such as electronic, electrical, chemical and mechanical engineering; economics; accounting; finance and medicine. Indeed, support for students in these disciplines will likely go toward helping the government realise its plans for an innovation-led economy, as laid out in Economic Vision 2030, the emirate’s long-term economic development roadmap.
According to Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, the director-general of ADEC, the council’s scholarships will also help ensure that the skills of the Emirati workforce match the needs of employers. “The scholarship programme aims to create a stronger alignment between the human capital resources and labour market requirements,” he said in a public statement.
Among the scholarship programmes already offered by ADEC is the Al Nokhba Elite Scholarship for Advance Technology, which sponsors students through their undergraduate and graduate engineering studies at universities in the UAE and abroad. Students enrolled in this programme also have access to internships and employment opportunities at the semiconductor manufacturing company Global Foundries, or at other technology companies nominated by the Advanced Technology Investment Company, a government entity that sponsors the scholarship alongside ADEC.
While programmes such as Al Nokhba are aimed at university students, the emirate is also working towards the development of a skilled labour force by expanding vocational training at the secondary school level. According to the June 13 announcement from the EC, five new secondary technical schools will be set up in the near future, joining the four that the Abu Dhabi government has already established in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, and the emirates of Ras Al Khaimah and Al Fujairah.
These schools, which offer a number of different programmes to prepare students for careers in disciplines such as mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, aircraft overhaul, supply chain management, logistics, finance and accounting, are run by Abu Dhabi Vocational Education and Training Institute (ADVETI).
Established in 2007 with a mandate to develop and deliver vocational education and training designed for Emiratis, ADVETI was established by a decree from Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
In addition to the secondary technical schools, ADVETI also manages several post-secondary vocational institutions, including Al Jazirah Institute of Science and Technology, Al Jaheli Institute of Science and Technology, the Baynounah Institute of Science and Technology and the Al Reef Institute of Logistics and Applied Technology. These schools offer a variety of certificate and diploma programmes across a number of fields, including business, information technology, travel and tourism, design, environment studies, industrial technology, logistics and engineering.
To help ensure that its graduates are ready to meet the needs of the local labour market, ADVETI has designed its programmes in consultation with local industry and businesses. Addel Omar Al Ameri, the director of ADVETI, told OBG, “In order to make vocational school graduates appealing to employers, graduates must be equipped with the correct skill set, knowledge and attitude for their chosen field.”
The creation of a skilled labour force is an important part of helping the government realise its economic development plants. By supporting programmes such as those offered by ADVETI, as well as providing additional scholarship funds for students at universities, Abu Dhabi is taking important steps towards ensuring the development and diversification of its economy.