The Triple Helix describes how education, industry and government need to work together, meet together and talk together to discuss how these three essential strands of society can support each other to meet the needs of the future development of the country.
The Higher Colleges of Technology in Madinat Zayed and Ruwais take their responsibility to society very seriously, and the colleges are in a unique position to bring all three strands of activity together and that is what they did in Madinat Zayed this week.
Nearly forty representatives came from every sector of Al Gharbia Business and Industry, including the Diwan, the Western Region Municipality, several ADNOC companies, the Khalifa Fund, SEHA, UNB, Etisalat, and local education providers, to discuss how the HCT could support their needs for an appropriately trained workforce and what they can do to support the colleges, through sponsorship of students, courses, events and taking students for work experience.
Government and development agencies, like the Western Region Development Council and the Khalifa Fund came to explore ways to work with the colleges to retain young people in the Western Region and discuss the support all young people needed with choosing and developing their careers and when setting up their own businesses.
BIST, the only other education provider in the Western Region also attended. The Madinat Zayed Colleges and BIST see themselves as colleagues, complementing each other in the higher education field as they strive to meet the educational needs of Al Gharbia.
After an introduction by Nial Farrell, Associate Director of the Western Region Colleges, questions and answers focused on the key concerns of the region and how they could be addressed by those attending.
One of the ways employers were seeking support was with shorter courses for their staff members and with educational opportunities for other staff to complete their degree studies after working hours.
Dr. Phil Quirke, Director of the Western Region Colleges, announced that the colleges will be able to take students in September with CEPA scores of 140. These students will do a Pre-Foundations year, leading to a new Associate Technical Diploma that could be targeted at the needs of industry partners.
Fahad Al Jaberi from the Khalifa Fund wanted to explore the establishment of Business incubators within the colleges, where entrepreneurs could work out their business ideas with the highly qualified staff at the colleges. He was also exploring ways to offer short workshops, especially in art and cultural activities, as he felt this was a neglected area in the region where much talent was being wasted.
It is often in the networking and informal sessions that follow a public discussion where some real work is done. Already there are new links being forged with Al Hosn Gas, GASCO and the Khalifa Fund.