Monday, 28 May 2012
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UAE: Visit of Minister of Further Education and Skills: Scene setter – May 2012
British Embassy Abu Dhabi
Visit provides the opportunity to support UK education exports, an area of UK strength and opportunity in the UAE, which aligns with the Emirati ambition to develop the employability of their own people. Calls on the Minister of Labour and Minister of Higher Education will demonstrate the UK’s commitment in this area and facilitate recognition of UK vocational and professional qualifications in the UAE.
Mr Hayes will visit the UAE on 22 and 23 May. Developing the employability of Emiratis is a key objective of the Government for social, economic and political reasons. There are many UK Further Education Institutions and a significant number of UK awarding bodies playing a key role in the UAE (we are market leaders). However, vocational qualifications are still not yet widely recognised in the UAE with equivalency, with transfer to Higher Education being a particular issue. Steps are being taken to move forward and a National Qualification Authority has been set up. There are opportunities around a new approach to Further Education, especially competency based qualifications and those delivered in the workplace. This visit will provide an opportunity to push forward that agenda.
In Abu Dhabi Mr Hayes will call on the Minister of Labour which offers the opportunity to develop a common qualifications framework or to agree a roadmap for delivery. Our aim is to gain market access and increase legitimacy for UK institutions and awarding bodies by providing a route to UAE recognised accreditation for their qualifications and therefore ability to sell into the public sector here. We are particularly concerned that UK Institutions that have set up in freezones in the UAE have their qualifications recognised throughout the UAE. From the UAE perspective they gain quality assurance for UK qualifications, as well as providing an international benchmark for UAE developed qualifications. It also provides the potential for recognition in wider Europe. Calls on the Federal and Abu Dhabi vocational qualifications bodies will enable further development of this area and identify explicit opportunities for UK business. UAE and Abu Dhabi are currently very focussed on further education co-operation with South Korea and the Minister’s visit offers the opportunity to put the UK back in the frame.
A possible call on the Minister of Higher Education, Sheikh Nahyan, will provide an opportunity for wider discussion on UK/UAE bi-lateral education and business links and messaging on UK government commitment to furthering ties in education and training.
In Dubai the Minister will have the opportunity to see and support the wide range of British institutions involved in the education sector, promoting the UK Further Education/Higher Education offer. At the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) and the British University in Dubai (BUiD), a unique platform for several British institutions, Mr Hayes will be able to discuss the Further Education strategy in Dubai, the role of UK education in developing a knowledge based economy, and links with UK Industry. In addition CfBT and KHDA will announce that they will be able to provide inspections recognised by the Department of Education and KHDA, a significant step for the many private schools offering the UK curriculum. At the Dubai Police Academy City & Guilds will showcase the range of vocational skills supported by the UK in the UAE. A reception and networking lunch with key UK Further Education contacts will provide a wider picture of the opportunities and the scope for Government support.
The main media opportunity for Mr Hayes will focus around the importance of a technically skilled workforce and the contribution that UK institutions are making to the development of vocational and professional skills in the UAE. Opportunities for wider messaging on areas of cooperation between the UK and UAE, highlights of the visits and areas for follow up will also be available.
The “Emiratisation” programme aims to move UAE nationals, a minority (10%) in their own country, into jobs which have historically been occupied by foreigners. Building skills is also key to the UAE’s goals to continue its economic diversification. The UK is a partner of choice in this programme. In addition, education is seen (by the Abu Dhabi leadership in particular) as a critical part of the UK-UAE relationship. As such education is an important strand of the UK-UAE Taskforce and Gulf Initiative. As well as developing this further, Mr Hayes’ visit provides the opportunity to underline the significant scope of existing bi-lateral co-operation in education.
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