World Youth Skills Day: Transforming youth skills for the future at NYUAD
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Transforming youth skills for the future at NYUAD

Transforming youth skills for the future at NYUAD

Highlighting the importance of World Youth Skills Day, Erich Dietrich, academic director of the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Community Programs, NYU Abu Dhabi, sheds light on how the university is promoting leadership and critical thinking skills among its students

Gulf Business
Erich Dietrich from NYU AD

The theme for this year’s World Youth Skills Day is Transforming youth skills for the future’. What does that mean to you in terms of your work at NYUAD?
The UAE is undergoing a rapid change and evolution as a country, and our world is undergoing an incredible transformation through shifts in geopolitics and the so-called global economy. We aim to inspire our students to become active participants in society and agents of change themselves. We teach lifelong soft skills that students can carry forward towards sustainable development including leadership, public speaking and critical thinking skills.

Tell us about the programmes you run?
We have two programmes on offer: the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Scholars Program for college and university students, and the NYU Abu Dhabi Summer Academy for high school students.

The Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Scholars Program offers university students unique access to specially designed courses, lectures, leadership experiences, cross-cultural exposure, networking and graduate school advising. Each year a new “Scholar” cohort is competitively chosen from among the most exceptional students at the three national UAE universities. They pursue these classes and activities at NYUAD in addition to their academic programs and responsibilities at their home universities.

The NYU Abu Dhabi Summer Academy is an 18-month college preparatory programme designed to enhance the academic profiles of highly motivated Emirati high school students from throughout the country. Students who succeed after a multi-phased selection process win the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Scholarships for Outstanding High School Students, enabling them to enroll in the academy. Through courses, cocurricular activities and college counseling, the Summer Academy helps ready them for the rigours of university academics, assisting them in the application process with the aim of their gaining admission to the world’s leading universities.

2) Are they free and open to the public?
Our programmes are free and open to school and college students. The high school programme is open for Emirati students, while the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Scholars Program is open to students at the three local universities: UAE University, Zayed University, and the Higher Colleges of Technology.

3) Why is connecting with youth in the community important to NYUAD?
Our programmes prepare students to become the country’s future leaders by educating them on political economy, global affairs, as well as providing them with leadership and public speaking skills.

In the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Scholars Program, students choose a course on the challenges of the new political economy or a course on international and global affairs. We give students from other universities the chance to see global and international perspectives on the challenges that the UAE faces as a country.

We try to empower youth with global experience through our curriculum. It is a way for NYU Abu Dhabi to have a positive influence on all students.

4) Tell us about some of the success stories you’ve had with young people going through the programmes.
We have celebrated our 10-year anniversary for both of our programmes and in each year, we bring in 34 students for Sheikh Mohammed Scholars Program, and 34 students for the NYU Abu Dhabi Summer Academy. We have already had over 350 graduates who have gone on to amazing leadership positions and graduate schools in a variety of areas. We are really proud of what they have all achieved.

We hope to attract more applicants every year and bring them insights into political, economi, and global change. We aim to continue to attract students from various academic backgrounds including STEM and medical students. We want to continue to offer the best curriculum possible and help further develop the research capacity of the UAE. The country could benefit from more researchers and people who are involved at the cutting edge of knowledge and innovation.

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