UAE jobs: No perfect work-ready employee any more, report says

Technology is changing rapidly, engineers need to keep upskilling


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Mon 23 May 2022, 11:31 AM

Last updated: Mon 23 May 2022, 3:51 PM

Ninety-three per cent of firms have had difficulties recruiting suitably qualified engineers for available jobs in the last year, according to a UAE Skills Survey report by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

The IET, a 151-year-old global organization with more than 155,000 members in 148 countries, released findings from its UAE Skills Survey report that lays bare the skills gap currently facing the UAE’s engineering industry.

No More Ready-made Employees

“Employers want ready-made, fully trained employees,” said Sir Julian Young, President of IET. “However, the reality is, technology is developing at such a rapid pace. We must either go back into schools or colleges and integrate the kind of training that is required to work with such technology or take the current crop of engineers and train them. There is no perfect work-ready employee any more.”

Sir Young then went on to elaborate that the survey results show that engineers must keep on learning. “They not only have to continue working and maintaining their skill sets but also keep up with new technology,” he said. “If they don’t, they will easily become less relevant to the workplace in terms of output.”

The report also looked at which industries will become more important for engineers in the future. “Artificial Intelligence is going to be big,” said Sir Young. “There are no surprises there. Fields like construction, electronics and aerospace will also grow but they will also have a digital aspect to it. And that is one of the reasons why it is so important for engineers to constantly up-skill themselves and ensure their employability.”

Take training to schools and colleges

For the UAE to continue to build home-grown engineering talent to meet its future requirements, industry and the Government will need to work with schools to ensure children from a young age experience hands-on practical learning of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects to encourage creativity, imagination and problem-solving.

“UAE has first rate education system and opportunities for everyone,” said Sir Young. “The challenge is making sure that the education is relevant to place of work. It is important to go back into schools to make youngsters curious and want to learn more about science and to make them believe that engineering and technology could be a future career.”


“STEM education is absolutely vital in schools and colleges to inspire the next generation of engineers as early as possible. This needs to start between the ages of 7 and 9. We need to try to give them roots to fulfill their ambitions. They must be given an opportunity to do Python and programming with Lego models and so on. It sounds basic, but can be really exciting, especially as a competition”

On the job training important

According to Sir Young, there is a worldwide shortage of engineers at the right level with the right skills and he had some advice for youngsters.

“It is important for them to get all the experience that they can with summer jobs and internships,” he said. “This will make sure that they are ready for a place of work by the time they graduate. The vocational element of engineering- understanding what it takes to manufacture things, to design and test things and to use them, and then most importantly repair and fix them is invaluable. That makes the difference between a good engineer and an exceptional one. On the job training like internships will give youngsters the creativity to solve problems more creatively and make them better team workers.”

The IET and YouGov interviewed 325 engineers and senior decision-makers in engineering and technology businesses across the UAE. The sample was drawn from YouGov’s panel in the UAE and only those working in the engineering and technology sector were allowed to take part. The survey findings build on earlier research carried out in 2021.

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