Abu Dhabi: Nearly 75 per cent of the jobs available today will be obsolete by the time children born this year join the workforce, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said on Tuesday.
He was speaking at the opening of the Mohammad Bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations, which began at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre on Tuesday. Students need to prepare themselves to keep up with the rapid changes, and be able to create jobs themselves, Shaikh Abdullah said.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, also toured the majlis, which aims to engage, connect and inspire Emirati university students as they plan their careers and look at contributing towards their communities.
Shaikh Abdullah stressed that government jobs, which have long been considered attractive and comfortable, are now highly demanding, and he encouraged Emirati students not to aspire only for these.
“The UAE provides the best start-up support in the region, and it is one of the easiest countries to become an entrepreneur. So instead of simply looking for government sector positions, our students have to be more ambitious and hopeful, and truly want to contribute to their homeland,” he said.
He highlighted the growing role of automation, and advised students to continue looking for ways to develop their skills and knowledge.
“We have self-driving cars today, and they are the future. In a few years, news agencies will be able to automatically analyse huge volumes of data and generate entire reports with minimal human intervention. Even houses will be built entirely using 3D printers. As we do away with these jobs, others will be created and you, our students, should keep up with these changes,” Shaikh Abdullah said.
“With persistence and training, you can go on to create jobs and give back to your country,” he added.
Dr Ahmad Abdullah Humaid Bel Houl Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education, told Gulf News that the entrepreneurship is “built into the Emirati DNA”.
“However, when education was first institutionalised here, not enough attention was paid towards promoting this entrepreneurial drive. This is however changing, with innovation incubators being set up at universities across the country to help students translate their ideas from paper to reality. And trends indicate that today’s students are now more willing to become job creators instead of jobseekers,” he said.
Al Falasi added that many recent start-ups around the world had been technology-based.
“But entrepreneurs can tap any need in the market, especially if it is related to their backgrounds,” the minister said.
Nearly 3,000 Emirati students from across the country are expected to attend the majlis, which features a range of competitions and activities, as well as public addresses from a number of UAE leaders, industry experts and international speakers. These sessions focus on the importance of STEM education, the need for creativity, the role of responsible citizenship, the development of smart nutrition and other topics.
A key area of the majlis, known as The Hub, features a range of private sector companies and public organisations, as well as university officials to brief students who wish to continue their academic pursuits.
A selection of 30 students is also participating in a unique design challenge entitled Minds on a Mission. The competition requires them to reimagine future education in order to make it more inclusive and effective, or develop innovative transportation systems that are more sustainable and less prone to congestion.
What students say...
Sara Al Obaidli, 22
Student of nursing at Fatima College of Health Sciences
“Not too many Emiratis are involved in nursing and this is a shame. By becoming a nurse, it offers me a direct opportunity to give back to my country. For, even as technology drives development forward in all other fields, the human aspect of caring for people is still a need, and this is what I would like to do with my life. I hope to graduate in 2019, then gain some work experience before getting even more professional training and education.”
Shatha Mohammad, 20
Mechanical engineering student at Abu Dhabi Polytechnic
“I have always liked hands-on work, and although I don’t have a mind for Math, engineering was still my field of interest. So I am in the third year of my degree now, and once I finish, I hope to go on and become a pilot. My parents worry about my goal, but I believe travel is educational and fun, and it is how I want to give back to my country.”
Maitha Al Shamsi, 20
Business and human resources student at UAE University
“It sounds like a boring field, but human resource management is just as dynamic a sector as any other. And although you often miss the fact, the choice of employee is what often drives any company and economy forward. This is what I want to do once I’ve graduated. I would prefer a government job however, and mainly because it would help me strike the right balance between my professional and family lives.”
Omar Al Ansari, 22
Industrial engineering and management student at Arizona State University
“Development has been my passion from a very young age. I would take things like household appliances apart just to put them together in a better way. And I realised when I was in school that my passion coincided perfectly with the UAE’s vision. So I am studying industrial engineering, but I am also pursuing a minor in business, and completing a certification in entrepreneurship and innovation. Once I finish my degree, I will look for any opportunity that helps me fulfil my potential to the fullest, and then work to establish my own start-up.”
Abdul Rahman Al Hammadi, 29
Human resources management student at Al Ain University
“I worked for 12 years in oil and gas logistics, but I wanted to enhance my qualifications and explore my skills. So I decided to study something related to behavioural and organisational management. I will be done with my degree in a few months from now, and I have a job lined up. It may not be clear, but in my role, I want to help recruit and manage qualified talent that can help contribute to our economy.”
Ebrahim Al Hosani, 23
Economics and finance student at West Virginia State University
“Very few Emiratis go on to study Economics, but we need this kind of knowledge to drive the progress of our economy. That is why I am doing a double major in Economics and Finance. For a long time, I thought I would finish my education and take up a job in the government sector. But now, I want to do something enterprising, especially given the tremendous amount of government support that we receive. My parents have always supported all their children, and I know they will be on board with my eventual plans.”