Over the last 20 years education has embraced numerous trends and various approaches, yet the core remit of education remains unchanged: to produce graduates ready for the workforce. This is particularly evident in the United Arab Emirates, where, for over a decade the government has supported an Emiratization initiative designed to employ UAE nationals in a meaningful manner in both the public and private sectors. Underpinning the country’s Emiratization initiative is the role of the education section which plays an instrumental part in ensuring graduates are work ready and have the skills and knowledge to compete in a global market. This research study takes a fresh look at the skills employers in the UAE want from new graduates, examining the importance of both hard skills such as vocational competencies, and soft skills such as critical thinking. Alongside this, the perspectives of Emirati working graduates are also presented, revealing the mismatch between the skills graduates believe are needed in the workplace and those that employers prioritize. This is a mixed methods research design, incorporating both surveys and interviews with employers and working graduates in order to examine more closely job market realities and the potential disconnect with classroom practices with a hope to more effectively prepare graduates for employment.
Nicole Shammas, Higher Colleges of Technology - Dubai Women's College, United Arab Emirates