Abu Dhabi: Students, parents and academics share mixed feelings about the Ministry of Interior's decision to allow students to take up part-time jobs and community work alongside their studies even as the initiative is being implemented from this month on.
The Ministry of Labour is still pondering the issue of working hours that would be suitable for the scheme but it has been made clear that working hours for students taking up part-time jobs are not allowed to exceed eight hours.
According to a senior official at the Ministry of Labour, students above the age of 15 and sponsored by their relatives or educational institutions are now permitted to take up temporary positions.
"The decision to encourage students to work will help curb [the] influx of expatriates and give more options to the labour market by allowing best utilisation of available resources," said the official who did not wish to be named.
Hailing the government's decision, he said: "This arrangement is good for economic and demographic reasons."
Emirati student Aydarous Habib, 18, who has just graduated from school, says the move offers the right choice to those who would otherwise waste their time in unnecessary activities. "Young people these days are spoilt. A decision like this will keep them off the streets and busy with work and studies," he said.
Sara Rashid Al Mazroui, also an Emirati, is a student of the Petroleum Institution. The 17-year-old feels working part-time depends on the students' current situation. "If your major is easy, you have the time to work and gain experience. However, with me, I hardly have free time to invest in anything but my major... Had I majored in something easier, I would have surely pursued another job."
South African Lilian Caplen hopes the decision will not burden students with financial responsibilities at home. "Part-time work for students would then be seen in an entirely different light. Students can pay for their own social expenses and that could help towards family expenses," she said.
Caplen's daughter Estee, 15, is a 10th grade student in Al Raha School. She said working would help make students responsible but could also lead to them ignore studies.
Samir Al Desouky, advisor to the Ministry of Higher Education, says that not all part-time jobs are convenient. "For university students, it's always a good idea to provide them with a job within their campus; it should also depend on the students' schedule and credit hours. If the student has a lot of credit hours, it would be hard to keep up with both a job and studying.
For those with less credit hours, a part-time job is ideal," he said. "Some students may end up taking their jobs seriously and this may result in [them] delaying [their] graduation as done in western countries. Academics and families must be prepared to face that outcome."
Paul Coackley, a parent himself and principal at Al Khubairat British School, said the move needed to be regulated properly. "If the appropriate health and safety guidelines are in place, [the] training is adequate and there are restrictions on the amount of work, then I think there are positive factors with this decision," he said.
With inputs from Rayeesa Absal, Staff Reporter