How Zayed University is preparing students for private sector careers

The demand from the private sector to attract the best quality students is now greater than ever

Zayed University is one of the three federal universities in the UAE.

Following the Annual Government Meeting in November His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed tweeted: “By harnessing innovation and investing in our people, the UAE’s journey of progress will continue.”

Founded in 1998, Zayed University, one of three federal universities in the UAE, has always sought to innovate and invest in its students. At its campuses in Dubai and Abu Dhabi thousands of UAE nationals have benefited from this pioneering spirit. Staying ahead of the curve and constantly innovating, has been vital to the success of the university. As it enters its 25th year, the institution remains as future focused as ever.

“We recognise that the private sector will be crucial to the growth of the UAE over the next 50 years,” says Dr Michael Allen, Acting Provost and Chief Academic Officer, “so a fundamental objective of our new strategy is to improve the employment prospects of our students.”

Around the world a disconnect has emerged between education and employment. A study by Bloomberg in 2018 found that 65% of corporates and 56% of academic institutions believed that graduates were ill-prepared in some way when they left University. Globally, universities are implementing new policies to try to close this gap.

The leadership in the UAE have been very clear about the importance of education. It is one of four pillars in the Centennial Plan 2071, and ensuring that the education sector keeps pace with the changing workplace, was a key motivation for the ambitious changes announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid at the Ministry of Education earlier this year.

According to Dr Allen the answer lies in closer collaboration between employers and universities. “Our students want to graduate and get a good job, so it is vital that we work with businesses to understand the types of skills they need. Our new degree programs do just that. The combination of interdisciplinary learning and real-world work experience helps us meet the needs of the private sector, and lay the foundation for the future careers of our students. This is how we feel we can best play our role in contributing to the UAE’s continued journey of progress.”

The good news for Zayed University students is that the demand from the private sector is greater than ever. For companies seeking to meet Emiratisation targets, it is a race to attract the best quality students. At this year’s Zayed University career fair more than 100 private sector employers attended, which was a record number. This came as no surprise to Rashed Alshamsi, Acting Director of Student Careers and Alumni Department “The pursuit of high-quality talent is of the utmost importance to businesses”, according to AlShamsi, who added “Our students will be differentiated from their peers and so will be attractive to employers.”

A career in the private sector offers something unique to students. From banking to the utilities and pharmaceuticals to consulting, the private sector is where innovation is at its sharpest and this is creating exciting opportunities for young people. In addition, the cultural diversity of private sector companies adds an extra dimension. Unood Mohammed, Human Resources Supervisor for Emiratization at Zurich International Life Limited, exhibited at Zayed University’s recent Career Fair and had a simple message for the students: “Join the private sector, because the growth possibilities and development paths are far greater than those in the public sector. You will also get an opportunity to work with different cultures and a diverse team, and meet different personalities from around the world, and this to me is very exciting.”

Within Zayed University this collaboration with the private sector cuts across all activities. Recent agreements with leading technology companies such as Etisalat and Cisco included a commitment to provide students with the opportunity to be involved in internship programs. Both Etisalat and Cisco also join a list of more than 70 entities which have signed up for Zayed University’s Partner Challenge program, a new mandatory program which sees students work on projects set by a mentor from the private sector, as early as their first semester.

“What the private sector needs is a dynamic, agile, entrepreneurial workforce. It is our job to produce those graduates,” says Dr Allen. “We are fortunate to carry the name of the Founding Father, who was unstinting in his ambition and pursuit of progress. We take great pride in watching our students succeed in their careers. They are the future of the nation and will drive the country forward.”

Updated: January 27, 2023, 3:15 AM