The UAE’s vision of prospering through a powerful knowledge-based economy is a vital part of how the small country plans to break free of its current long-term dependency on the oil sector. Other larger countries have the option to look at manufacturing, but the UAE’s small national population means that it has to focus on developing a national workforce that is ready to work with knowledge-based skills.
Achieving this vision depends on young nationals taking a renewed interest in studying core subjects like maths and science; while this is happening to a small extent, it needs to happen a lot more. It is important that the UAE’s students recognise what is on offer in the country: In addition to the well-established national universities run by the federal government, there are also more than 40 international universities that have set up campuses in Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) and Dubai Knowledge Village (DKV).
Dr Ayoub Kazim, managing director of DIAC and DKV, has made it clear that the UAE needs to give its young people vocational skills in these vital areas to develop the necessary high capability of fostering innovation.
The World Economic Forum has ranked the UAE 24 out of 144 countries for having its economy focused on innovation. This is a major achievement, but the country will begin to drift away from this target if its young people do not take up the challenge.
They would be helped if the UAE’s larger companies like etisalat, du, Emirates, Etihad, Adnoc, ENEC and some of the banks sponsored programmes or courses related to their industries, so that young nationals will emerge from their education with relevant skills that they can take into the workplace with immediate effect.
The power of a link between the course and a potential employer makes the option very attractive as the student is able to experience internships with a possible employer, as well as other activities like taking part in relevant research inspired by genuine industry needs.