The innate curiosity humans are born with needs ‘switching on' in the UAE's youth in order to develop adequate human capital to drive a knowledge-based economy, experts said last week.
To encourage Emirati youths to actively dedicate their careers to scientific research and development, students need to be challenged, said Professor Seham Al Deen Galadari, Vice-Provost of research and graduate studies at UAE University (UAEU).
"We need to gauge an education system to challenge students enough to show an increasingly materialistic generation there are alternative career options available in science," he said. "Even if the youth are looking to make money the quick way, we need to show them it can be done through engineering and technology."
He added this message must be delivered by nurturing good teachers to be positive role models and educate parents to do the same.
"That drive to discover, which exists naturally in young people, maybe needs switching on in our youth because it's the key [to developing human capital]," he said. "It's good mentors and good school and education systems that will do that."
Members of the newly formed University Leadership Council (ULC) met last week at the Masdar Institute in Abu Dhabi to launch a white paper titled Establishing a research and development culture to create a knowledge economy.
The ULC currently comprises UAEU, Zayed University, Masdar Institute, Khalifa University and the American University of Sharjah but is expecting new members in the near future.
ULC was formed earlier this year as a platform for academic leadership to bring together government, academia and industry to spearhead national and regional research and development efforts in the region.
"Human nature is fundamentally inquisitive and a career in research and development needs to be a reasonably well compensated one," said Professor Wyatt Rory Hume, Provost of UAEU, who is soon set to be replaced by Prof Galadari on the ULC.
He added that countries that have successfully developed knowledge-based economies have included in their infrastructural investments appropriate levels of support for researchers.