Graduates need to be made increasingly aware that the UAE's private sector has a significant role to play in the realisation of the Abu Dhabi 2030 economic vision and industrialisation agenda.
These sentiments were shared by Rob Watson, regional director of Rolls-Royce, a global power systems provider, at the Future's Day segment of the Dubai Airshow last week.
"In the UAE in particular we need to get people focused on private sector opportunities for wealth generation and innovation to support the country's industrialisation agenda," Watson told Gulf News. "It shouldn't just be a government-driven thing."
Watson delivered a presentation to over 600 undergraduate students with the intention of delivering a clear message to the engineers of the future as well as insight into career opportunities.
"Engineering students now will build the future world, I mean literally build it," he said. "I want these guys to understand it's their creativity and the application of their skills which will create and drive the future shape of the world."
Watson cited official studies that call for a significant increase in the number of UAE engineering graduates and said this should be done by stimulating interest at the school level.
"The private sector must go into schools to promote science and get children switched on about it so they then want to embrace a career in engineering," he said. "This will see them actively seeking engineering opportunities at university with a clear thought in their own mind where this might take them; and in Rolls-Royce's point of view that's into the private sector."
Watson added that in a country like the UAE where the leadership is investing in the promotion of economic diversification and the broadening of its industrial base, innovative and broad-minded engineers become a necessity.
"The private sector has a huge role to play in this and it's important as a corporate partner of the UAE we help them," he said. "Taking a 20-year view for industrial diversification and a long-term educational view, we feel strongly that you have to promote that message in schools."
Although, he added that from his interactions with UAE youth, he can tell that they are interested in engineering.
"It is a popular field and there is a much stronger entrepreneurial spirit than some people assume."