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18 May 2016
MBRSG organizes Sixth Policy Council Session on ‘Building an Inclusive UAE Society’

Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG), a research and teaching institution specializing in public policy in the Arab World, organized the sixth Policy Council session on ‘Building an Inclusive Society: Supporting Youth Employment and Development in the Innovation Economy. Convening government partners, educators and industry leaders, the session explored ways in which Emirati youth can increasingly contribute to the diversifying economy through education and participation. 

The session was attended by His Excellency Dr Ali Sebaa Al Marri, Executive President, MBRSG, His Excellency Abdul Baset Al Janahi, Chief Executive Officer, Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for SME, Sarah Amiri, Chairperson, UAE Council of Scientists, Rabia Bekhazi, Director of Student Affairs, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Ibrahim Al Qasim, Deputy Project Manager for Strategic Planning, Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center, Wafa Al Awlaqi, Director of Technical Vocational Education and Training, National Qualifications Authority, Professor Raed Awamleh, Dean, MBRSG, and Mohammed Al Khatib, Director of Corporate Communication, MBRSG.
Attendees discussed the challenges and barriers to youth inclusion in the new innovation economy, and how solving these would propel the UAE Vision 2021. Prof Raed Al Awamleh, who moderated the session, utilized the platform to reiterate the findings of the 2015 report compiled by MBRSG and the Emirates Foundation titled Persistence in the Abu Dhabi STEM Pipeline.  The panellists concurred that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and recruitment are valuable tools to help young Emiratis excel in a knowledge and skill-based work across various industries. 
Welcoming the experts, His Excellency Dr Ali Sebaa Al Marri, Executive President, Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government, said: “The astonishing rate of growth in the country will require highly skilled workers, thinkers and leaders. Beyond economic competitiveness, issues such as global warming, food and water shortage and the energy crisis has created a growing demand for specialists. Currently, only 21 percent of students in government universities and 19 percent in private universities are pursing technical and natural sciences degrees. This is a small percentage and poses a dilemma, which we can collaboratively work to solve by incentivizing and educating youth.”

The UAE has a strong university infrastructure and is investing in independent and government research institutions and foundations that support research and innovation. However, a study by MBRSG observes that STEM careers have historically been perceived as time-consuming, difficult and demanding. As such, the global demand for STEM professionals is higher than the supply – a trend that is also reflected in the UAE today. 

Speaking on this time-sensitive issue, Sara Al Amiri, Chairperson, UAE Council of Scientists said: “Increasing the quality of academic offerings and state-of-the-art resources for students and transforming organizational standards in the private sector can encourage Emiratis to take up more challenging jobs in the field. We need to implement policies that will urge and enable corporations to accommodate more Emiratis in strategic and technical jobs.”
The MBRSG study finds that even university students that have graduated in the STEM fields and possess high problem-solving skills have faced barriers such as negative stereotypes of Emiratis in the private sector.  

Speaking on holistic integration, His Excellency Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO, Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for SME said: “In a ¬¬¬¬¬country with ¬¬¬hundreds of nationalities, we need to find the right balance between encouraging diversity and Emiratization, to truly create an inclusive community. With the right public policy initiatives in place, we can pave the way towards a collaborative ecosystem where positive social impact and progress is the shared goal.”
Rabia Bekhazi, Director of Student Affairs, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology added: ‘There is a need to create specialized and interdisciplinary fields of study, and integrate this into students’ curriculum right from the high school level. We must enhance student awareness and inculcate the importance of science and technology to their sustainable futures. This will generate awareness among young Emirati students, who will challenge themselves to push the boundaries of learning and research to innovate and create ideas and solutions which will propel UAE’s economic growth and positively impact social welfare. We need to introduce students to career guidance professionals right at the primary school levels – this will be a valuable investment for forward-looking institutions, helping them identify and nurture talent from a young age.”

The Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government is committed to promoting good governance through enhancing the region’s capacity for effective public policy. The school uses a four-pronged approach, which includes applied research in public policy and management, academic programs in public policy and administration, executive education programs, and knowledge forums for scholars and policy makers.

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