Apprenticeship Programs to Forge New Paths in UAE Education Sector

UAE’s largest Federal Higher Education Institute, HCT has announced new pathways, diplomas and vocational training aligned to labor market demands

ABU DHABI, UAE, March 18, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — As global education trends evolve, there’s a noticeable shift towards a more integrated approach, blending academic learning with practical, real-world experience. This trend, reflecting a universal move towards innovation, sees educational systems worldwide, including the UAE, adapting to the changing demands of the Job Market. According to European commission, Apprentices find jobs faster, retain them longer, and are better paid than other students. Here in the Middle East, as the UAE propels forward, it embraces innovative strategies to equip its youth with the skills necessary for tomorrow’s challenges, ensuring that the nation remains at the forefront of educational excellence and economic advancement, ready to meet the demands of an ever-evolving global marketplace.

Dr. Luc Verburgh (Chief Academic Officer of HCT)

The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), UAE’s largest Federal Higher Education Institute, through its applied educational model transformation aptly named “Shaping the Future” is adopting apprenticeship-based programs to enhance its educational offerings. This initiative represents a significant shift towards integrating more practical, work-based learning opportunities with theoretical study, providing students with valuable hands-on experience in their fields of study. Through these programs, Emirati students are set to gain real-world skills alongside their classroom education, better preparing them for the demands of the workforce and contributing to the growth of the UAE’s economy. The recently launched strategy provides higher education opportunities for all high school leavers, with a dedicated focus on Inclusivity and Employability, while directly meeting labor market needs.

Dr. Faisal Alayyan, HCT President & CEO, noted that the hallmark of HCT’s strategy is the inclusion of experiential learning with on-the-job apprenticeships, coupled with academic qualifications. “We believe this strategic approach will overhaul UAE’s job market’s approach to the employment of new graduates, while boosting UAE National work development opportunities for Emiratis,” Dr. Alayyan said.

The strategy is aligned with the UAE’s National Future Foresight, forged from partnerships between Academia and Industry, ensuring HCT graduates possess in-demand, industry-relevant skills, he added.

The apprenticeships program is being conducted in conjunction with the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratization (MOHRE), and will be embedded in all HCT programs, with students combining on campus classroom and lab learning, with experiential industry experience.

“HCT’s success in implementing this transformation is dependent upon collaborating with strategic partners to bridge the gap between our students’ educational experiences and the real-world work environment, by offering practical training and apprenticeship opportunities during the students’ studies,” Dr. Alayyan said. This is evidenced by the signing of 11 agreements designed to yield over 4,000 new employment opportunities and an additional 4,000 training prospects for students in the immediate future.

The first 4-month apprenticeship period commenced in September 2023, with students registered to undertake the hands-on training as part of their education requirement. “The apprenticeship system, adopted globally by numerous universities, proves pivotal for enhancing Emirati youth employability. HCT stands out, with our students having completed an impressive 4,679 apprenticeships within the first two semesters of the launch of this program,” Dr. Alayyan said.

Dr. Luc Verburgh, the Chief Academic Officer at HCT, underscored the transformative power of integrating applied learning within the curriculum. He noted, “Our focus is on bridging academic rigor with real-world applications, ensuring our students are not only well-versed theoretically but are also agile and adaptive in practical settings.” This reflects HCT’s strategic commitment to nurturing a skillful workforce adept at navigating the complexities of the modern professional landscape.

As a result, HCT seeks to attain a 90%-plus graduate employment rate. “We will have a strong focus on these ‘professional apprenticeships,’ creating vital links between academia and employers. Through these links and partnerships, we are ensuring our students’ preparedness for their future careers, and we will greatly enhance their practical training and on-the-job knowledge,” he said.

The concerted initiatives have concluded in a significant increase in Emiratization rates, particularly within the private sector, while they empower students to accept opportunities in the job market. As the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) spearheads this pioneering shift in the educational paradigm, it reaffirms its commitment to empowering the UAE’s youth with the skills and experiences vital for the future. By seamlessly blending academic excellence with practical, industry-driven apprenticeships, HCT is not just preparing Emiratis for jobs but is actively shaping the architects of tomorrow’s economy.


Dr. Faisal Al Ayyan, (President and CEO of HCT)

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