His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, launched the Emirates Youth Professional School on Monday, 12 August. The school will teach vocational skills to students aged between 15 and 35 years of age.
In line with the vision to develop a sustainable economy in the post-oil era, UAE leaders know that they need to start with the younger generation — empower people to take up careers in line with their talent, interest and skills.
The new school will not have a set curriculum, nor hire any full-time teachers; instead it will be crowdsourcing experts in an “uber-like model” to teach professional skills.
Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, announced on Twitter that the ministry will hold programmes at the school, for various subjects including sustainable agriculture, developing animal health, sustainable maritime activities, and on sustainable buildings. Without a set curriculum, the school could also provide skills of data analysis, coding and more to prepare students for the future of tech.
“The Emirates Youth Professional School provides a unique educational experience that bridges gaps between conventional academic learning and the rapidly changing labour market.Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth
People go about the traditional route of growing up — studying in school, graduating college and entering the workforce only to face the harsh reality of not knowing how to file taxes, manage money, or even learn skills in line with their interests before they have graduated from the university.
This needs to change. Teenagers need to be able to study subjects and learn skills that they want to use in the careers, earlier on in life. Governments in many western countries such as the UK, Netherlands and Germany already offer vocational learning in schools and some even have separate schools for those who want to learn career-oriented skills.
UAE’s step towards establishing this school to teach technical skills will help the country as a whole to bridge the skills gap that currently exists. Then, instead of relying on bringing more expats to the country, they will be able to nurture talent from within the emirates.
Ibrahim Naji, Co-founder of RealEDU, an EdTech startup that offers a multi-level solution to bridge the skills gap for students and corporates, said ”Schools are the new battleground for corporates and governments alike. We need to ensure that the curriculums and skills taught in the classroom reflect the needs of the industry and prepare the students to be more than just automatons engineered to perform mindless tasks that robots still can't perfect.”
Instead of leaving it up to teachers to imagine what the industry needs, and instead of letting Deans of schools put research paper's publication as main KPI for their students, it's time to invite the society of experts to the classroom and share their knowledge to prepare the next generation of our workforce.”Ibrahim Naji, Co-founder of ReadEDU
He added, “It is absolutely thrilling to see such an initiative come to life. Kudos to Shamma Al Mazrui and the team behind The Emirates Youth Professional School. We prove yet again that developing skills is not the sole responsibility of schools. It needs to be done in collaboration with the industry because the industry's demand is what shapes the skills that will be key in students’ future employability.”
In our part of the world, university education is seen as the most valuable asset for employability. However, not everyone is fit to become a doctor, an engineer or a CEO. There are people who are naturally talented to be a coder, more inclined towards sustainability, better fit for taking care of animals. It is time we enable people to take up careers in line with their skills and their passions — for them to be happy and more successful. The Emirates Youth Professional School is a huge step in this direction that will see students gaining access to knowledge and learn from experts.