Importance of vocational education stressed.
Experts at an education conference on Thursday stressed on the growing importance of vocational education in the region as a bridge that fills the gap left by traditional higher education, as well as, in contributing to the country's economy.
"The definition of vocational education is changing, it is not (anymore) the apprenticeship programme of the past.... There's a merger between vocational education and traditional higher education, which has really empowered our society," said Dr Kathleen Hodge, managing director of the Abu Dhabi Vocational Education and Training Institute (ADVETI).
This is particularly true in the UAE because the country's education framework has put vocational education on par with higher education, according to her.
And with the many job opportunities available in the UAE, particularly in the non-oil sectors such as shipping, logistics and semiconductor, vocational education is an 'expanding area', said Dr Warren Fox, executive director of Higher Education at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).
"These are very strong skills set that will allow students to contribute in a very productive way to the industry," Dr Hodge stated.
Skills that have become 'very necessary' if the country is to move from being a consumer to production, noted Dr Ahmed Al Awar, director of Abu Dhabi Polytechnic. "Vocational graduates are important to the economy since vocational institutions work closely with the industry," Bruce MacKenzie, CEO of Melbourne's Holmesglen Technical and Further Education (TAFE), pointed out.
And the challenge now lies with the industry to attract their future manpower. "If the industry wants specialised, trained, high-quality graduate in their programme they also have to be attractive, in terms of the working condition, salary and in terms of career path," Dr Hodge told Khaleej Times.
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