By Andy Sambidge
Initiative launched to help 4,000 students as youth unemployment remains 'alarmingly high' in region
A new AED1.5m fund has been set up to train the Emirati entrepreneurs of the future, it was announced on Monday.
Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, in collaboration with INJAZ-UAE, has launched a three-year partnership to implement a series of entrepreneurial programmes for students aged 13-24 in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Western Region.
Dr Ahmed Khalil Al Mutawa, CEO of Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, said that the fund plans to invest about AED 1.5 million on training for more than 4,000 UAE national students.
"The aim is to create a dynamic entrepreneurial culture amongst youth and instill a sense of responsibility for their own professional future. In return, this will support the future economic development and progress of the capital, and as a result, the UAE," he said in a statement.
The move comes amid reports that some Emiratis prefer to be unemployed rather than taking jobs in the private sector.
The UAE's Labour Minister, Saqr Gobash, said the disparity between salaries in the government and private sector mean many Emiratis turn down job opportunities in favour of waiting for a better paid public-sector role.
Unemployment levels in the UAE, the world’s third largest oil exporter, hover around the 14 percent mark, considerably lower than those seen in more populous Arab countries.
Gobash said on May 5 that the Gulf state’s private sector must create up to 20,000 jobs a year in the next decade for Emiratis, as young school-leavers enter the workplace.
Commenting on the new fund, Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nehyan, chairman of INJAZ-UAE, said: "We cannot overlook the importance of entrepreneurship education in the region, especially now that the youth unemployment figures are alarmingly high across the region.
"It paves the way for a culture of entrepreneurship for the creation of job opportunities, contributing to the growing economy of Abu Dhabi."
INJAZ-UAE is part of JA Worldwide, the fastest growing business education organisation, reaching nearly 10 million students per year in 123 countries.
According to latest figures, there are 35,000 unemployed Emiratis in the UAE. Only seven percent of nationals work in the private sector, according to the Ministry of Economy.
Mass youth unemployment was a driving force behind the ‘Arab Spring’ revolutions that swept parts of the Middle East, Gobash said.
Total unemployment rates for 15-24 year olds in Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia is around 40 percent and as high as 60 percent in Egypt and Syria, according to the IMF.
1.5 Million AED to train 4,000 students, equates to 375 AED per student! Seems like the figures are wrong.