Why early career skilling is so crucial for young Emiratis

It bridges the chasm between theoretical knowledge and practical application and instils a lifelong learning mindset that stays through the prime of productivity

By Danah Dajani

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Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, chairman of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education. - File photo
Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, chairman of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education. - File photo

Published: Thu 7 Dec 2023, 2:22 PM

As rapid technological advancements reshape our world, we find ourselves at a pivotal juncture in history. Our socio-economic fabric is transforming unprecedentedly, demanding that we equip the younger generation with more than just knowledge and resources. The circumstances demand adaptability, innovation, and a versatile skill set spanning multiple domains. Hence, the imperative of integrating early career skilling into our educational systems cannot be overstated.

For much of our history, the formula for success was simple: acquire knowledge, secure a job, and build a career. However, this linear path no longer guarantees sustained employability. The future requires a holistic approach to education that seamlessly blends traditional academics with practical skills, preparing students for a world where job roles may not exist.

A stark revelation from the Mohamed bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations survey casts a glaring spotlight on the pressing issue. With 78 per cent of young Emiratis feeling the weight of educational pressures and 58 per cent uncertain about their career futures, our current educational systems require a recalibration. We must redefine our educational ethos to bridge the gap between the classroom and the evolving job market. This involves embracing interdisciplinary, dynamic, and reflective curricula of real-world contexts.

A holistic approach

Innovative programmes, like the recently introduced Takween, a National Programme by the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation (AGF) in collaboration with Emirates School Establishments (ESE), represent steps in the right direction. While tailored for young Emiratis, the programme’s holistic approach suits the multifaceted nature of modern education.

With an emphasis on academics and skill development, Takween exemplifies the balanced educational initiatives we should strive for, where traditional pursuits harmonise with early career skilling, exposing youth to skills that pave their paths to post-secondary and career skilling. We address the skills gap to enter post-secondary, university, or vocational paths. Learning does not just happen in a classroom; we engage communities to ensure we are investing in the future of people.

But why is early career skilling so crucial? It bridges the chasm between theoretical knowledge and practical application. While understanding algebra or historical events remains essential, the ability to apply mathematical concepts in real-world scenarios or comprehend how historical knowledge shapes contemporary decision-making can transform passive learners into active contributors to society.

Early career skilling instils a lifelong learning mindset that stays through the prime of productivity. It can spread by word of mouth and elevate collective spirits among career-minded youth. In a world where change is the only constant, learning, unlearning, and relearning become invaluable. Critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, and adaptability are essential in professional settings and everyday life.

To harness the full potential of UAE youth, we need a comprehensive approach to career planning and opportunities. Traditional career paths are undergoing seismic shifts, with sectors like renewable energy, technology, aerospace, and the arts offering exciting new avenues. This translates into a landscape teeming with possibilities for Emirati youth, where they can merge with the nation’s developmental goals.

The essence of the vision

As the UAE strives to realise its UAE Centennial Plan 2071, there is a renewed focus on the role of Emirati youth in achieving ambitious milestones. The essence of this vision lies in ensuring that young Emiratis are not just the beneficiaries but also the architects of the nation’s progress. Investments in sectors like space research, exemplified by the Mars Mission, or the commitment to sustainability, signal the country’s aspirations and the kinds of careers its youth can anticipate and execute. These are no longer distant dreams but tangible career paths.

(Danah Dajani is senior vice-president - Partnerships and Programmes - at the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation.)


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