ABU DHABI // Emirati students were told yesterday to pursue a career they are passionate about and that helps the UAE, not simply the one that pays the most.
Speaking at a youth forum at Zayed University, Hanan Harhara, head of human capital development at the Advanced Technology Investment Company, the company behind the emirate's drive to become a leading microchip manufacturer, said: "Look for jobs that are in line with your aspirations.
"Don't look for jobs in brand names, companies with brand names or those with high salaries. Look for jobs in line with your passion."
Dr Amal Al Ghaferi, an assistant professor at the Masdar Institute, echoed those sentiments. "If you are a university graduate, you have to decide if you want a challenge or a monotonous job," she said. "If you want a challenge, you have to hone yourself."
The panel's moderator, Jamal Al Kaabi, director of corporate communications at the Health Authority Abu Dhabi and a former doctor, told students they must see where they live and work out how they can benefit UAE society and what they can give back. "Young people must not be lazy," he said. "You need to speed up your steps to benefit your country."
As the UAE moves away from its dependence on oil and gas, representatives from key emerging industries such as aerospace and microchips, spoke to students from UAE universities about possible careers.
Amal Al Jabri, an associate at Mubadala Aerospace told the women in the audience not to believe there are jobs that exclude them.
"At our Strata plant in Al Ain, 80 of our 100 technicians are women," she said. "When we launched the plant in Al Ain, it was not the done thing for women to work in a factory. When you go there, you see the women are the ones who want to challenge themselves."
More than a quarter of the company's workforce is Emirati. It hoped to raise that to half by 2015.
Twenty Emiratis, men and women, work at its plants in Singapore and Germany. Ms Harhara said the engineers' skills "equal those of foreigners".
Dr Ahmed Belhoul, vice president of Mubadala Industry told the students his success did not come easily. "You need to work for a long period of time. You need to do more and face up to more challenges and be more beneficial to your own country."
Ms Al Jabri graduated from UAE University with a degree in IT and went into the army for three years. From there, Mubadala Aerospace approached her to work for them.
"I didn't have any justification for a move. Life was beautiful and everything was going well, even though the routine could be harsh. Why would I go to a place I knew nothing about?"
However, during her interview, she realised her future was with in emerging industry with a company contributing to the UAE and Abu Dhabi's "2030 Vision".
She underwent intensive training when making the transition, which she admitted was not easy. "This challenge was a very important bedrock of the journey."