The Higher Colleges of Technology hosted its inaugural Employability retreat on September 4-5, 2019, where it explored means to boost entrepreneurial opportunities for HCT graduates.
Members of the HCT senior leadership team were joined by the institution’s academic and recruitment staff, as well as representatives from Price Waterhouse, the Limerick University in Ireland and the Queensland University of Technology in Australia.
The retreat discussed the quantum shift from the HCT 2.0 strategic plan, the aim of which was to achieve 100% graduate employment, to HCT 4.0 Employability and Beyond, which was launched in 2019 to graduate companies for the purpose of empowering HCT graduates to create their own commercial opportunities.
The reterat also highlighted the HCT’s initiatives and achievements in the area of graduate employment in the private sector, the ground work for which started in the 2016/2017 academic year. These initiatives complemented the new HCT 4.0 plans, the objective of which is to empower students to establish their own businesses and also to motivate them to become future entrepreneurs in line with the vision and directives of the UAE’s leadership.
In his keynote address, Dr. Abdullatif Al Shamsi, HCT President & CEO, stated that the HCT will strive to achieve 100% student work experience in the private sector to encourage students to seek employment in this vital sector, which is a strategic goal in national development, so they can benefit from the wealth of knowledge and experience in establishing their own start-ups. This will in turn support the nation’s Emiratization and strategic human capital plans.
Dr. Al Shamsi shed light on a number of HCT achievements, aimed at increasing graduate employment in the public and private sectors, highlighting where 50% of students (approximately 2,415 male and female students) undertook work experience in the private sector during the spring and summer of the 2018/2019 academic year.
The President & CEO affirmed HCT’s keenness to ensure that its graduates become employers’ first choice in both the public and private sectors, thus achieving 100% student work experience in the private sector. The HCT has also been striving to standardize employability and industry engagement, support collaborations between the HCT’s career centers and academic divisions, and ensure connectivity between academic outcomes and industry requirements, Dr. Al Shamsi said. “The HCT is committed to securing an employment opportunity for every graduate, particularly in the private sector,” he said.
Dr. Al Shamsi added that the HCT’s Hybrid Education Model has contributed to achieving the HCT 2.0 goals by linking academic study with practical training and employment, having a focus on future skills and awarding of international professional certificates. This has enabled thousands of HCT students in various specializations to earn international professional certificates and HCT academic degrees at the same time, Dr. Al Shamsi said.
Dr. Al Shamsi said that given the projected replacement of 40% of jobs during the next 15 years due to automation, the HCT will focus on up-skilling students and graduates in light of the factors of increasing rates of unemployment; increasing number of graduates; and growing job vacancies, all of which require up-skilling and well trained graduates who are prepared for the future.
The main speakers in the forum were Dr. Patrice Twomey, Director of Cooperative Education and Career Division in Limerick University in Ireland, Dr. Alain Mc Alpen, Associate Director of Strategic Partnerships in Queensland University, and Roland Hancock, PWC Partner. They discussed the means of achieving progress in graduate employment, current HCT employment services and initiatives, current practices in the area of employment, and support of career centers to achieve their goals.