Abu Dhabi: To engage young people in the decisions that determine their future, the Abu Dhabi Government has pledged to fund the next five youth forums that will be organised as part of the WorldSkills competition.
The announcement was made on Tuesday at the closing session of the WorldSkills 2017 conference, a two-day series of sessions held alongside the largest international competition for vocational skills, WorldSkills 2017.
“[Through this gesture], we wish to support youth around the world, and not just here in the UAE,” said Mubarak Al Shamsi, director-general of the Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (Actvet). The Actvet, which organised WorldSkills 2017, aims to increase the number of Emiratis in rewarding technical careers.
Both the youth forum and the conference were held for the first time in the UAE alongside the WorldSkills 2017 contest, a four-day event in which 1,300 participants from 60 countries are pitting their skills against one another. They are competing in 51 skills categories, including electrical installations, beauty therapy, floristry, automobile technology and 3D gaming art. Winners in each category will then be announced at a glittering closing ceremony in the capital on Thursday.
At the inaugural WorldSkills youth forum, 300 professionals aged between 17 and 32 years drew up an 18-article declaration that called for education reform, inclusivity, and a promotion of technical and vocational education and training.
Ministers and experts at the closing session of the WorldSkills conference on Tuesday highlighted the need for further youth involvement as the world embarks upon the fourth industrial revolution, in which digital technologies and artificial intelligence are changing the needs of the labour market drastically.
In fact, about 71 million youth are currently unemployed across the world, and although technical and vocational education can help reduce this unemployment, some experts feared that governments and educational systems are a little late in making the required changes.
Dr Ghaith Fariz, director of the Unesco regional bureau for the sciences in the Arab States, said governments must therefore immediately create mechanisms to hear from youth.
“In the UAE, we have already appointed a youth minister to empower our young people, but we need a change in mindset towards vocational and technical careers and education,” said Hussain Ebrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education.
“And from elementary school onwards, we must furnish our children with the social skills, the academic skills and the technical skills that will help them succeed in a globalised world. Academic skills should not override technical skills but they should complement one another,” he recommended.
Chirag Goel, a 22-year-old web designer from India and former WorldSkills champion, added that today’s young people want to play an active role in deciding what the future holds.
“We know we are in the infant stages of a revolution, and this makes us uncertain about the future. But we are sure we want to help shape that future,” he said.
What they say
Roudha Bin Bahr, 22, final year student, chemical engineering, UAE University
“The other competitors are surprised to see a woman in this skills category [of refrigeration and air conditioning], as I am the only one participating [in this edition of WorldSkills]. But I wanted to do something unique. I did take a look at other skills categories, but I opted for this, believing it would open the doors for more of my Emirati peers. My family is totally supportive of me, and I feel like I will perform quite well.”
Eisa Al Marzouqi, 22, final year student, mechanical engineering
“I am participating in floristry, and why shouldn’t I? I know it is not very usual for an Emirati man to be a florist but I am good at it, and have already won medals in UAE competitions. I also enjoy the process of creation, and I am here to win. Most importantly, all of us should be able to pursue what we are good at.”