New careers guide to help get UAE students ready for the workplace

The guide in English and Arabic, which a Cabinet minister and Malala Yousafzai's father contributed to, will be distributed at the Emirates Literature Festival

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Authors Dawn Metcalfe and Sahar Bahar of The Possibilities Project.  Leslie Pableo for The National
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The authors of a new careers guide for the UAE hope to prepare students for the realities of an ever-changing job market.

The Possibilities Project gives young people real life examples to avoid becoming stuck in jobs they don't want and broach an ever-tricky subject: how to tell your parents you don't want the career they want for you.

Hard copies will be available at the Emirates Literature Festival this week and downloads from February 8.

The book will be available in Arabic later this year.

Co-author Dawn Metcalfe said the fact young people in the Emirates rarely have part-time jobs or do work experience means their first taste of a real workplace is aged 22 or older.

“It’s about making sure kids know what the possibilities are and how to turn this into a reality. It’s not enough imagining what you want to achieve, you have to do something about it and that’s the message we want to get through,” said Ms Metcalfe, a former teacher in the UK who runs PDSi, a coaching company for businesses.

“We have got people who are experts in their field and have interesting stories to share their knowledge with young people.”

The book has well-known contributors including Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, who share anecdotes, experiences and challenges they have faced.

Book Cover Mockup (to go with Ramola story for career guide for UAE young)

In an engaging chapter, Ms Al Kaabi writes of her journey to the UAE Cabinet.

“There is a lovely message from Noura Al Kaabi who shares her personal experience from navigating her way from university into the job market,” said Sarah Bahar, co-author and a corporate communication professional.

“She is now in a prominent position and admired by everybody but this will help young people look behind the scenes and understand what people go through to get that position of success.”

Contributors offer a blend of action-driven advice and personal anecdotes that addressed subjects from presentation skills, networking, resilience and navigating change.

Readers can gain insights from 17 people including Isobel Abulhoul, founder of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, entrepreneur Lucy Chow, businesswoman Muna Al Gurg and Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala.

The book addresses the gap that exists between students and the work place in the UAE and the Gulf.

“The focus is on students but message includes anyone of any age,” said Ms Bahar.

“There is something for everyone. Whether young or old, people are still going through a process. They may not understand what their skills are, what is their value and how to apply all this to a work place context.”

In one chapter, Ms Metcalfe addresses the subject of tough discussions that students need to have.

“Children need to have these difficult conversations with their parents, who want them to be doctors or engineers - and the kid doesn’t want to be anything like that,” said Ms Metcalfe, who has written two books.

The authors will also share perspectives of what hiring managers are looking for in young people.

Results of the research from speaking to 300 hiring managers and 1,500 young people across the country will be released on February 8.

“What is clear is there is good talent here but we need to help it reach it’s true potential,” she said.

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