Work placement programme introduced by UPC

Ms BaniHashem is a model of what the UPC hopes to achieve through a new agreement it signed with UAEU Tuesday aimed at educating, training and ultimately recruiting more talented Emiratis to its workforce.

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ABU DHABI // Some of the most valuable lessons Yasmeen BaniHashem learnt in her university years were not at university at all, but during her work placement.

Ms BaniHashem was one of the first interns to join the spatial data department at the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC), with the help of UAE University, where she studied.

“What I gained is the technical skill, which is mainly how to use the GIS [geographic information systems] software, how to deal with data and how to use or understand the application of GIS in city planning,” Ms BaniHashem said.

“This is one side – to build my technical knowledge. The other side is how to improve myself in a professional way. I’ve become more confident, my communication skills have improved. Even during my internship I was not being treated as a trainee. I was just like any employee.”

It’s now five years since she started her internship, and Ms BaniHashem is still working for the UPC, but this time as an associate manager in spatial data. She also helps recruit other students at campus careers events.

Ms BaniHashem’s experience –from intern to employee – is an example of what the UPC hopes to replicate through the agreement it signed yesterday with UAEU – to help educate, train and recruit more talented Emiratis to its workforce.

Under the agreement, there would be five internships each year for urban design students at the university. It would give student interns an opportunity to work on some of Abu Dhabi’s biggest planning projects.

It would also integrate the UPC’s regulations and suite of planning manuals into three courses at the school: geography and urban planning, planning and urban design and architectural engineering.

“That will help the student to understand how we plan the city and how we design the city,” said Abdulla Al Shamsi, executive director of strategic affairs at UPC.

“From our side, after they graduate, we will bridge the gap between market needs and the education contents. This is really a win-win situation for both parties,” he said.

The UPC said it would organise workshops, forums and intensive training courses for students, as well as share spatial and physical data for projects that support academic and research activities. The organisations would also share equipment, systems and laboratories.

“This initiative gives students the opportunity to be introduced to the UPC’s regulations, manuals and best practice urban-planning processes,” said Dr Ali Al Noaimi, vice-chancellor of UAEU.

“This coincides with our constant efforts to update and enhance our curriculum to include the latest developments and practices in each speciality to meet global standards.”

rpennington@thenational.ae