EXPLORING THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A CURRENT CAREER TRAINING PROGRAM AT THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES UNIVERSITY: A STUDY OF CURRENT SENIOR STUDENTS AND LOCAL EMPLOYERS

Open Access
Author:
Alhawasin, Mohamed Abdalla
Graduate Program:
Workforce Education and Development
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
April 22, 2010
Committee Members:
  • Richard Allen Walter, Dissertation Advisor
  • Richard Allen Walter, Committee Chair
Keywords:
  • Characteristics of University Training Program
Abstract:
Collaborations between universities and businesses continue to be a vital and critical indicator of the transition in learning from school-based learning to work-based learning. Most jobs today require postsecondary education, forcing many high school students to enroll in a higher education institution in order to advance their careers. However, for most higher education graduates today, receiving a degree is not enough to ensure employment, especially in light of the current economic crisis. College students must have the right job skills to be successful in the workplace. As a result, postsecondary institutions are required today to enhance their relationships with the labor market in order to ensure that their students are up-to-date on workforce needs and demands and able to engage in better careers. According to Cares (1999), “education for tomorrow must be built of round, rigorous academic standards, industry skill standards, connecting to the privates sector, and ongoing career development” (p. 1). Student success in their future career depends on their skills, from academic to technical competencies to more general job skills (U.S. Department of Labor, 1991). Qualitative research studies on the relationship between schools and businesses are almost absent in the UAE, especially by those in postsecondary institutions. This study is significant not only in being one of the first to examine this relationship, but also because it is based on the contributions being made to the UAE workforce by the United Arab Emirates University career training program (Industrial Training Program) in the Department of Engineering. This study sought to examine the role of this career training program in preparing 4th-year senior students for future career jobs. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 12 students from different specialties in the Department of Engineering who were enrolled in the training program, and with five employer representatives who have worked with this department’s students in recent years. This premise formed the basis of this research—specifically, what is the perceived value of the career training program at the UAEU according to student participants and employers who are providing learning experiences to students? Study participants revealed a positive impression toward the training program initiative (Industrial Training Program). They reported that the university career training program is an excellent program and will remain a major and vital program in preparing young graduates with the necessary skills for the workforce. However, study findings suggest that the current career training program requires several enhancements to its current offerings, including: business and university partnerships, placement strategy, annual analysis of labor market trends, and curricular improvements with regard to connecting school-based learning with work-based learning activities.