ASU, AGFE launch college- and career-readiness platform for Emirati youths

By

Mary Beth Faller

Arizona State University is expanding its global reach to the United Arab Emirates with a new college- and career-readiness platform for young Emirati people.

The Al Ghurair Young Thinkers Program, developed jointly with the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education (AGFE), launched last week to help Emiratis ages 15 to 25 prepare for university life and professional careers in fields critical to the future of the UAE.

So far, 2,000 young people in Abu Dhabi have already registered for the program, according to Bethany Weigele, senior director of lifelong learning initiatives at EdPlus at ASU, the unit that houses ASU Online and other programs.

“We’re excited that these students have been motivated to already start engaging with the coursework and success advisers,” she said. The pace of registrations “really demonstrates the need for a college- and career-readiness platform that is available at the touch of a finger.”

EdPlus created the online platform for the Young Thinkers Program, which includes college-readiness modules in English and Arabic, the interactive me3 career-pathway game and a live-chat application to talk to trained coaches. The platform is available as a website and is optimized for smartphones.

The team did extensive testing and “learned about the specific nuances we needed for our audience,” Weigele said.

The content is customized for the young Emiratis. For example, the interactive modules in English and Arabic help develop professional skills in areas such as networking, writing resumes, public speaking, time management and digital literacy. Weigele said that by the end of the year, there will be about 25 courses, with most about 90 minutes long.

The platform also includes live-chat capability with ASU success advisers, who support students in setting goals and overcoming obstacles and are available during convenient times for students. The coaches are fluent in Arabic and English in both writing and speaking.

“We required that they have lived extensively in the Arab world, so they’re knowledgeable not only in the language but about which careers are popular there, what the universities are like and what high school looks like,” Weigele said.

UAE men stand at a line of laptops
The Al Ghurair Young Thinkers Program aims to reach 5,000 Emiratis ages 15 to 25 over the next five years. Some 2,000 have signed up since last week's launch, and more launch events are scheduled. Photo courtesy of AGFE

The goal is to reach 5,000 young people who are in high school, university or early career in the next five years. More launch events are scheduled, including one in Al-Ain on Tuesday, as part of Tawteen360, organized by the UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. 

The Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education is the largest private foundation focused on education in the UAE and the Arab region. In the UAE, the foundation has forged a series of strategic partnerships to provide young Emiratis with the latest tools and information to support their career aspirations through skill-building, empowering them to contribute to their nation’s competitiveness.

“We are excited to bring the Al Ghurair Young Thinkers Program to the UAE with Arizona State University,” said Maysa Jalbout, CEO of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education. “Capitalizing on ASU’s extensive experience in innovation, we look forward to using the program’s technology-based mechanisms to prepare Emirati youth for university and work.

“The program offers bespoke technology-based solutions designed especially for young Emiratis to prepare them for higher education and the job market. With education as one of the main priorities in the UAE’s national agenda, we are confident that the Al Ghurair Young Thinkers Program will support efforts to build national human capital that is capable of coping with change across different economic sectors.”

The foundation first partnered with ASU in 2017, a partnership that includes Open Learning Scholars, a scholarship program for students to acquire master’s degrees from ASU Online.

Businessman and philanthropist Abdulla Al Ghurair, the founder, pledged one-third of his wealth to the foundation and set out a target of reaching 15,000 youth over the next 10 years via secondary and higher education programs and scholarships valued at over $1 billion.

Top image courtesy of AGFE