Emiratizing the Education Sector in the UAE: Contextualization and Challenges


One of the purposes of vocational education is to improve the skill set of a population and help grow the economy so that, ideally, everyone prospers. This chapter discusses a context where it is the other way around. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) the economy exploded following the oil boom of the 1970s and has continued to grow at record rates. The local population was unequipped at the time to cope with the rapid growth and so imported labor was brought in, and continues to be brought in, in huge numbers to carry out the work. Vocational education for the local population in the UAE continues to try to catch up with this phenomenal growth and to hand back jobs to the local Emirati population.

After providing a brief summary of the huge economic changes within the UAE over the past 35 years and its impact upon the labor market and subsequent training needs, this chapter will outline an attempt to upskill the local population and get them into jobs via education and a federal program called Emiratization. The specific role that one large governmental institution, the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), fulfills in terms of vocational education will be discussed with a specific focus upon the development of teacher training programs.

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