Thousands of Emirati school pupils and university students have joined a nationwide job training scheme aimed at encouraging young citizens to work in the private sector.
The one-year pilot programme, which was launched on Monday, will help prepare pupils in years 9, 10 and 11 and those in the final year of higher education for future careers as part of the government's Emiratisation drive.
The Ministry of Human Resources, which is overseeing the drive in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Education and Human Resources Council, said 3,500 young people will take part in the first phase of the Professional and Practical Training Programme.
The initial one-year trial is to be expanded over the next five years to include all learners in the eligible age groups.
"The programme aims to expand career prospects for targeted students, familiarising them with the fundamentals of work, and underlining the important role the private sector plays and the opportunities it has to offer,” said Aisha Belharfia, acting under secretary for Emiratisation Affairs and assistant under-secretary for Labour Affairs at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.
“Targeting young people at an early age has numerous benefits. At that point, they are still at an age where they are open to exploring their capabilities and potential, and they are still building their aspirations.
"We guide them towards the right career path that enhances their role in the country’s development and progress, in line with the National Employment Strategy 2031 and the government’s ambitious plans to expand the share of Emirati citizens working in the private sector.”
Training programmes will last for between two weeks and three months, depending on the year group of the participant.
Completing the practical and vocational elements of the scheme will be considered part of a learners' requirements for graduation.
The ministry said those taking part in training will be entered into one of two tracks: a ‘general track’ that covers general high schools and advanced education and a ‘professional track’ will include all stages of secondary and post-secondary education.
"The programme offers weekly financial bonus to selected and nominated students by schools and academic institutions for training opportunities in co-ordination with private sector companies,” the ministry said in the statement.
Youth to support Emiratisation strategy
The UAE's Nafis programme was introduced in September 2021 with a mission to ensure 10 per cent of all jobs in the private sector were taken up by citizens by the end of 2026, as part of a major Emiratisation push.
More than 82,000 Emiratis are now employed outside of the public sector – up 52,000 since the start of the campaign, Nafis announced last week.
The UAE wants Emiratis to play a significant role in the private sector, which remains a driving force for economic development.
Companies must increase their Emirati workforce by 1 per cent every six months under the campaign.
Employers in the UAE with at least 50 members of staff are expected to meet a 4 per cent target by the end of the year.
The Emirati employment rate will increase to 6 per cent next year, 8 per cent in 2025 and 10 per cent in 2026.
In July, the UAE announced that companies with 20 to 49 employees would be required to fill a quota for the first time, hiring at least one Emirati in 2024 and another by 2025.
Last week, thousands of Emirati jobseekers attended a major job fair in Dubai.
More than 100 firms were present at the Ru'ya 2023 Careers UAE Redefined event at Dubai World Trade Centre on Tuesday.