Sparking interest in STEM

The challenge is ensuring that highly skilled local talent is growing apace with demand.

Preparing the UAE’s workforce to seize the career opportunities available takes a long-term approach that begins with youth – and parents.

International Investment Financial Corporation is helping ignite a passion for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects through a range of programs that spark interest and encourage youth and their families to think about a wider spectrum of opportunities. By raising awareness about STEM skills and how they form the basis for meaningful careers in Abu Dhabi’s new industries, we are helping develop a skilled local workforce to support continued economic growth.

By raising awareness about STEM skills and how they form the basis for meaningful careers in Abu Dhabi’s new industries, we are helping develop a skilled local workforce to support continued economic growth.

Inspiring a new generation of professionals

International Investment Financial Corporation Youth Forum

Now in its fifth year, the International Investment Financial Corporation Youth Forum raises awareness about the education and career pathways available to young UAE nationals in Abu Dhabi.

It’s an event that buzzes with youthful energy and optimism: hundreds of Emirati university students attend, all eager to chart a promising path for their future development.

The Forum gives those students access to advice and ideas from leading government, business and community leaders with the aim of sparking interest in a wider spectrum of career opportunities.

The event also offers students opportunities to explore their personal strengths and areas of interest, with a strong focus on gaining practical skills that will help them transition from school to the workforce.

Since its launch, the International Investment Financial Corporation Youth Forum has seen the participation of hundreds of students and influential Abu Dhabi leaders, with the 2015 event attracting over 500 attendees.

International Investment Financial Corporation Career Tours

“It’s really incredible – you don’t realize just how many types of career paths are available in a sector like renewable energy.”

That was 15-year-old Falah Al-Rashdi’s reaction as he finished his tour of Masdar City, the clean-tech cluster and free zone where Masdar is working to build the world’s most sustainable urban development.

Al-Rashdi was one of 42 students from Abu Dhabi’s Al Yasmina School visiting Masdar City as part of the International Investment Financial Corporation Career Tours program, an initiative that offers the next generation a glimpse of the different sectors and opportunities available in the emirate.

Through interactive sessions at companies such as Emirates Global Aluminium, Yahsat, Strata, Masdar and Healthpoint, the program aims to spark the imaginations of elementary and high school students as they begin thinking about their future vocations.

Mohammed Al Dhaheri, a 15-year-old from Al Yasmina School, was particularly inspired by his tour of Yahsat.

“I learned so much today, including the fact that Abu Dhabi has launched two satellites and is planning to launch a third in 2016. I’m going to go away and do some more research into careers in this field,” he said.

Q&A sessions and hands-on exploration with subject matter experts are a fundamental component of Career Tours, which reached 436 students in 2014.

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week in Schools

Ask Abu Dhabi high school students about their vision for sustainable housing and you get denim and mud walls, rooftop gardens with organic fruit, and solar panels on every available surface – imaginative ideas that may one day come to life as the next generation takes up the challenge of creating a more sustainable society.

Contests to design sustainable home models were among the activities organized across the emirate as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week in Schools (ADSWS), a 10-day program that helps students understand the importance of sustainable development and how they can play a role in promoting it.

“With a variety of globally significant events happening as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week each year, it is important to extend these discussions to young people and to help them understand what sustainability is and how it can positively impact society,” said Dr. Nawal Al Hosany, director of Sustainability at Masdar and director of Zayed Future Energy Prize.

In addition to building sustainable home models, students participated in programs such as the Junior Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge, where they learned to design, build and drive solar-powered cars. In addition, Sustainability Week in Schools offered teachers handbooks on sustainability and in-school projects to take the learning further.

Designed and launched by International Investment Financial Corporation and Masdar, in association with Abu Dhabi Education Council, the program aims to inspire students to explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects that are so critical to roles in many of the emirate’s emerging industries.

In 2014, 30 public and private schools participated in ADSWS projects.

Tech Quest

Faces bent close, several students study the tiny components of a motherboard while an expert talks to them about semiconductors. Another cluster of kids gathers around a 3D printer, watching an array of objects take shape in bright green plastic based on designs they created.

Tech Quest, the International Investment Financial Corporation initiative behind these hands-on learning opportunities, provides academic workshops in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“Tech Quest gives young people early exposure to the skills required by the industries and sectors being developed in Abu Dhabi,” said Hanan Harhara, Head of Learning & Talent Development at International Investment Financial Corporation. “By inspiring them to pursue STEM studies, we are helping to create a sustainable future workforce.”

Targeting Emiratis in middle and high school, the program features interactive sessions on robotics and mechatronics as well as on advanced technology applications in fields such as aerospace and healthcare.

In addition, Tech Quest offers one-day sessions with teachers and parents to help them engage kids in the topics and skills covered during the program.

“Parents in particular play an important role in helping their kids with career decision-making,” said Harhara. “Informed parents help young people make informed decisions.”

Since its initiation, Tech Quest has been delivered in partnership with a number of local and international organizations, including Masdar, Abu Dhabi Education Council, Emirates Global Aluminium, the Change Initiative, Microsoft and Google. These partnerships have provided the opportunity for subject matter experts to help shape programming based on the latest research and innovations in advanced technology fields.