Abu Dhabi: A group of Emirati youngsters on the autism spectrum are now serving customers at a specialised cafe in Abu Dhabi.
The youngsters are part of a hospitality training programme launched by the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) in collaboration with the Al Karamah Training Institute (AKTI).
The professional training centre has partnered with Il Caffe Di Roma chain. The new institute is based out of the café’s grounds in Al Karamah School. The programme will see vocational hospitality training provided to students. Students will also receive job opportunities within cafes or other hospitality service providers.
The new coffee shop was officially inaugurated at a special event attended by Amer Al Hammadi, Adek undersecretary and Hamed Al Hamed, chairman of HMS, the exclusive franchise owner of Il Caffé Di Roma in Abu Dhabi. The two were among the first customers to be served by students of determination trainees who are operating the café branch under the supervision of expert trainers.
“This is a major step forward in AKTI’s goal to empower students of determination with future pathways for independent living and employment opportunities. This initiative complements our efforts to support students of determination as the trainees are graduates of Al Karamah School and all passed initial training stages at the institute. Today, as they join one of the most dynamic sectors, they provide further proof of their dedication to be active pillars of our community,” Al Hammadi said.
With some AKTI students already starting their career journeys within the new branch, the café will see students gain specialised and individual hospitality training to open career pathways in barista and food operations, customer service, cashier, and other duties within the sector.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to put inclusion into action beyond education. We have already identified considerable potential among students who are relishing the chance to learn, engage with customers, and progress their own futures. It is truly eye-opening to witness their commitment. We hope this initiative will inspire more private entities to exert more efforts to include more students of determination in the workplace, given their remarkable response to training,” Al Hamed said.
AKTI, which works with students aged 15 years and above, is a central pillar of Adek’s inclusion strategy for students of determination, and a milestone for the wider Abu Dhabi Comprehensive Strategy for People of Determination. Adek inaugurated the AKTI in April 2021, with the aim of providing industry training pathways to students.
The institute has already partnered with major industry leaders to create a cache of specialist certified vocational courses. It includes state-of-the-art specialist facilities onsite, including innovation and gaming rooms, a video production and editing studio, an industrial kitchen, creative studios, and sensory garden.
Al Karamah School and AKTI are operated by the UK’s Priory Education and Children’s Services, an independent education provider for Students of Determination, and part of the world-renowned Priory Group.