Dubai: Imagine being in school at age 14 and getting hands-on experience from industry experts on how to operate buildings digitally or how to produce energy.
This next-level learning experience is what around 90 students of GEMS FirstPoint School — The Villa (FPS) will undertake thanks to its new partnership with Siemens Middle East to help prepare them for the future today, design their career paths and boost their employability in the future.
Launched on Sunday, the move builds on ‘Rahhal’, an initiative of Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). Rahhal is a ‘disruptive innovation’ in education that encourages schools to think outside-the-box and develop innovative learning opportunities that benefit students.
During the event, Dr Abdullah Al Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director-General at KHDA, said the initiative is a first step towards recognising industry-academia partnerships at the school-level and a reflection of Rahhal’s potential to truly disrupt education.
“We hope the move will encourage students and teachers to co-create cities of the future by working with real-world scientists and innovators. This partnership can potentially encourage many more schools to come forward and partner with Rahhal in an effort to extend learning opportunities outside the classroom,” Dr Al Karam said.
Michael Gernon, Chief Education Innovation Officer at GEMS Education, said the initiative aims to bridge the gap between academia and industry.
“What it means is our business and/or university partner will be working with schools and students at a whole range of different age ranges, but mainly the 14 to 18 age-range, so that we can better prepare our young people for the future,” Gernon explained.
“With this partnership, there is a mutual exchange. Siemens will bring technologies into the school which will help students to learn and understand their environment. Our students here at FirstPoint will also then go out to Siemens and work with some of the engineers and the innovation labs to find out what the challenges for the future will actually be,” he added.
There is no additional cost to school fees for students who will take advantage of the programme. Students will get tailored unpaid internships and apprenticeships with Siemens Middle East that will run throughout the academic year.
Dietmar Siersdorfer. CEO of Siemens Middle East, said: “We will give the students technologies where they learn what big companies are doing. They will learn how things are working and they can use these technologies to configure themselves, to test them and to see how technology is used to make life better.”
Siersdorfer, who also interned with Siemens in Germany when he was younger, said the programme will boost students’ employability.
Adding to this, Matthew Tompkins, Principal of FPS, said the programme will set the FPS students apart as they will have industry qualification and become work-ready even before graduating that will be beneficial both to the students and businesses.
One of the students who enrolled in the programme and is excited to see his career prospects and be futureproof is Ryan Thomas, 11.
“Lots of kids back in the day had to find out about their job and their abilities when they’re much older. At 11 years old, if I want to do an internship, I can do it now and I can learn about the job now and not when I’m much older so I can make the right choice.”