UAE pupils are being offered the opportunity to gain experience in jobs of the future, including in artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency, under a new internship scheme.
Pupils aged 13 to 20 across the Emirates can secure virtual internships at major global companies such as HSBC, Uber, Weiss Asset Management, KPMG and Dentons.
The programme is being operated by UAE higher education consultancy firm, Crimson Education.
It is just the latest initiative aimed at preparing the UAE's next generation of workers for an ever-changing employment landscape.
Soraya Beheshti, the regional director for Crimson Education, said there was a gap in the market when it came to young people being able to access internships in emerging technologies.
“We believe that young people tend to get sidelined a lot because of age, and tend to be told that your age is really a limitation, you shouldn't be working, you shouldn't be doing this, you're not experienced enough, you have to pay your due,” said Ms Beheshti.
“We want young people to feel like they really do and should have a place at the table. They are often the main consumers of a lot of tech start-ups. So, we wanted to create that infrastructure.”
Crimson Education provides training, which is required by the companies in order for them to take on the young interns.
The cost of the training varies on a case-by-case basis, depending on how much support the intern needs, but can be as much as up 4,900 (Dh18,000) for the most extensive training, Crimson Education said.
Ms Beheshti said the scheme offers a rare opportunity to garner experience at global firms.
“Typically, these firms do not employ high school pupils as interns because these are some of the most competitive firms in the world.”
Siddhant Tandon, a 17-year-old Indian pupil at Dubai International Academy, is currently doing an internship with PWC Australia, which he secured through a competition organised by Crimson Education.
“Every pupil should have at least one internship before entering college to know what the workplace is like,” said Siddhant.
“These internships are very helpful. School gives you the theoretical knowledge you would need, but doesn't give you the more practical and useful knowledge for life that internships give you.
“I definitely think artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency is a good way to go as a student to explore the FinTech field … I think that's definitely the future.”
Weiss Asset Management, a global investment manager in the US, has committed to hiring the top interns as paid analysts.
KPMG, which offers financial services around the world, will offer an internship covering digital strategy, cybersecurity and tech consulting.
Y Combinator, an American technology start-up accelerator is also providing internships covering cryptocurrency under the scheme.
Students would focus on three core competencies. The first is is cryptocurrency, offering an overview of how the sector works. The second takes in blockchain, with the third focusing on entrepreneurship.
The digital currency continues to grow in prominence across the globe, including in the UAE.
In October, The National reported that Dubai expects more than 1,000 cryptocurrency businesses to be operational this year, as it accelerates efforts to boost its digital economy.
Free zones in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have put in place an advanced framework to encourage entrepreneurs in the crypto sector to set up exchanges while laying out rules to protect consumers.
“Five years ago you wouldn't see people coming to Dubai to do the cryptocurrency business … we're open-minded, and we're willing to change regulations with reason,” said Dr Marwan Al Zahrouni, chief executive of the Dubai Blockchain Centre, at the time.
Cryptocurrency trading has fast become a lucrative job, although it is not without its risks due to the inherent volatility of the financial market.
About 4 per cent of 6,741 people in the US said they had quit their jobs at some point over the past year due to the financial freedom gained from investing in cryptocurrencies, according to a survey by online polling app Civic Science in November.
Twenty-seven per cent of participants said they resigned from jobs that paid less than $25,000 a year, while 37 per cent left jobs with salaries of about $50,000, the survey found.
Pioneering school offers support
Abu Dhabi's coding school, 42 Abu Dhabi, is proving popular with a new generation of learners eager to be equipped with the tools needed to thrive in the digital age.
The school, which has no classrooms or teachers, opened in October and has the capacity to fill 1,000 fully funded places for courses of up to three years.
Students sharpen their programming skills through internships, projects, games and peer-to-peer learning.
Huawei, Du, Microsoft, Intel and Oracle are offering internships to students at 42 Abu Dhabi.
The UAE's National Programme for Artificial Intelligence has held a series of AI camps to help equip young people with key skills.
The third such camp, held in September, was supported by major organisations such as Facebook, Microsoft, Huawei, Careem, SAP and other AI-specialist companies.