Centres focus on job skills for Emiratis

A vocational training centre for UAE nationals to get more Emiratis into jobs officially opens.

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ABU DHABI // A vocational training centre for UAE nationals was officially opened yesterday as part of Government efforts to get more Emiratis into jobs and meet a demand for skilled labour. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, the Minister for Presidential Affairs, opened the main campus of the Vocational Education and Training Institute (Veti), which will train students in a range of skills and trades from information technology and computing to taxi driving. The institute will have several branches around the emirate.

Sheikh Mansour said vocational training was a priority for the Government, which was focusing on "preparing qualified professionals in fields of design, IT... to face demands of the job market". The Abu Dhabi campus began offering some courses after a soft opening in Sept 2007. The minister was also updated yesterday on the progress of two Veti branches in Al Ain and Al Gharbia that opened two months ago.

There are already 886 students enrolled in the Abu Dhabi headquarters, which offers courses including information technology, tourism, interior design, paralegal studies, finance, property development and marketing. Students are expected to complete their programmes in two years, which will include six months of internships. Asked whether the UAE was in a strong enough position to maintain job levels and economic stability in the face of a global slowdown, Sheikh Mansour said: "The financial crisis will hopefully be a summer cloud for us and will fade away rapidly from here."

Veti's executive director, Nizar Luqman, said its programmes were based on a study of market needs. "We evaluated what are the highly demanded fields which require skills, so we can offer a variety of fields for students and society. By offering these new programmes we aim for nationals to think like entrepreneurs and start their own businesses." The institute also received its accreditation yesterday from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

Gary Pollock, the institute's director, said the accreditation guaranteed students would be accepted into the workforce. "We have established relationships with companies, which will help our students find jobs when they graduate." In the next month, the institute will sign an agreement with the capital's taxi regulator to start training drivers. Their training will cover customer service, tourism sites and general information about the capital.

Veti is a partnership between the Abu Dhabi Educational Council and the Australian government's vocational education provider, New South Wales Technical and Further Education Commission. To be admitted, students must be Emiratis and have completed grade 12. Once accepted, students undergo an English test and those who do not meet minimum standards will be given remedial lessons. Students said the fact the programmes were being taught in English was an advantage.

"I am still in English foundation," said Ahmad Mseager, 23. "I feel that my English skills improved since I joined last September, because they focus on speaking and interaction, especially since all the teachers are Australian, so we have no other option but to speak to them in English." @Email:hdajani@thenational.ae