United Arab Emirates: A survey commissioned by Emirates Global Aluminium, the largest industrial company in the United Arab Emirates outside oil and gas, has found that young UAE Nationals are increasingly aiming to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which are collectively known by the acronym STEM, but need more high-profile role models and internship opportunities to make their career dreams a reality.
The survey found that 40 per cent of 18-24 year old UAE Nationals are interested in entering STEM fields. This compares to just 23 per cent of their parents who say they would pick these sectors if they were young today.
Some 38 per cent of young UAE Nationals see internships and on-the-job training opportunities as key to pursuing ambitions in these fields. Another 30 per cent want access to the insights and experiences of high-profile people who have had successful careers in STEM.
UAE Vision 2021 calls for innovation, research, science and technology to form the pillars of a knowledge-based, highly productive and competitive economy. ‘UAE Vision 2021’ also calls for improved educational attainment in these subjects..
85 per cent of young people and 87 per cent of parents see careers in STEM as more likely to contribute to national development than careers in other fields.
EGA employs more than 1,540 professionals in STEM related fields, including some 500 UAE Nationals.
One-in-five young people are interested in careers in technology, making it the most popular career aspiration for their generation. Just two per cent of parents polled would pick technology if they were young today.
12 per cent of young people want to become engineers, and four per cent aspire to be scientists.
However the study also shows that interest in mathematics and science during school alone is not enough to encourage all young people to pick these fields as careers. Some 17 per cent of young men and 37 per cent of young women say that they currently enjoy studying science and mathematics but plan to pursue careers in other fields.
Abdulla Kalban, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of EGA, said: “It is clear that we need more of our young people in the UAE to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It is the responsibility of major employers of these professionals like EGA, and those of us who have enjoyed successful careers in these fields, to do everything we can to make that happen both for our own companies and our nation.”
Mr. Kalban is one of five members of EGA’s Executive Committee who studied a STEM subject at university and then joined EGA as graduate trainees.
EGA currently has 130 graduate trainees, primarily in STEM related disciplines. Graduate trainees undergo 18-month training programmes before taking on permanent roles at the company.
EGA is sponsoring 180 UAE Nationals to study at university, most in various fields of engineering. EGA has helped nearly 350 students get their education since 2001.
EGA has run a summer internship programme for students for the past 20 years. This year 30 UAE National university and high school students received work experience at EGA’s smelters in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and in head office departments.
EGA recently launched a national programme to encourage high school students to consider further studies and careers in STEM. The programme, called ‘Engineer the Future’, provides interactive learning sessions in high schools on aluminium and the fundamental science on which the aluminium industry is based.
The survey was commissioned by EGA and conducted by the global polling firm YouGov.