Dubai – MENA Herald: Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA), a government regulatory body mandated to foster the economic development of Dubai’s creative clusters and related knowledge industries, has announced the launch of a pioneering regulation that will enable over 4,500 businesses to offer part-time employment to 26,000 university students across the emirate’s nine free zone creative clusters.
Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA) is the region’s first government free zone regulator to enable businesses under its jurisdiction to access a valuable pool of student talent. The Student Part-time Work Regulation will enable the next generation of creative talent to gain critical industry experience to complement their fields of study and increase their employment prospects post-graduation.
Ahmed Bin Byat, Director General of DCCA, said: “Dubai Creative Clusters Authority seeks to foster the growth of vibrant creative sector ecosystems to create an enabling environment for entrepreneurs, industry leaders and creative talent. The UAE is currently ranked second and third in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for talent attraction and talent retention, respectively. The Student Part-time Work Regulation will anchor the nation’s ranking and align seamlessly with the Dubai Plan 2021, making it easier for organisations in the creative clusters to attract and retain talent. We are committed to driving the leadership’s vision of the emirate as a leading hub for global innovation.”
Notably, the new regulation is anticipated to bridge the knowledge-skills gap identified by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as being a challenge across the Arab world. As demonstrated in the Qudarat Wave III study conducted by Aon Hewitt in 2016, 57% of local organisations cite a lack of availability of talent with the necessary qualifications as being a key barrier to recruiting in the UAE.
“Through opening up opportunities that allow students to gain real-world industry experience, the Student Part-time Work Regulation will bridge the knowledge-skills gap. The ecosystem in the UAE is geared towards transitioning from what is currently a knowledge economy to an innovation-driven economy – making this regulation both timely and relevant,” added Bin Byat.
The objectives of the new regulation also aligns with the UAE’s National Vision 2021, which has articulated the setting up of a Competitive Knowledge Economy as one of its Key Performance Indicators. The 12-point agenda includes growing the proportion of ‘knowledge workers’ in the UAE’s workforce to 40%, from the 23% recorded in 2015.
The National Strategy for Innovation also focuses one of its tracks on nurturing individuals in STEM fields, to foster a culture for innovation in the long term. The ‘Earn while you Learn’ programme will give students an opportunity to work in sectors such as technology, life sciences and energy, which are all represented within the nine clusters regulated by DCCA. This initiative will support the steady injection of locally trained talent in these key industries, solidifying Dubai’s position as a hub for STEM careers in the region.
The UAE’s ranking in the WEF’s Global Competitiveness Report – in which achieving a top 10 spot is a goal highlighted by the UAE National Vision 2021 – will benefit from an ecosystem that fosters innovation and improves labour market efficiency. The Student Part-time Work Regulation will enhance these aspects through creating a framework for motivated, ambitious and educated youth to work in organisations based in Dubai’s creative clusters.
Ali BuRuhaima, Deputy Director General of DCCA, added: “The regulation in itself is a significant milestone that aligns with the Authority’s journey to establishing a sustainable and globally competitive creative sector in Dubai. In both the short and long term, this initiative will help ensure a volume of qualified and work-ready young professionals. The fact that some of the world’s most meaningful innovations have sprung from young minds is not lost on us, which is why we are confident that the creative industries will fully benefit from this new platform.”
The regulation will enable businesses licensed by DCCA to access a valuable new stream of talent and will, ultimately, ensure a well-rounded, educated and skilled workforce. Furthermore, it will give SMEs, which account for approximately 60% of private sector employment in the world, the flexibility to build capacity for short term projects with a more cost-effective recruitment model.
The new regulation has been introduced at a time when studies have proven how work enhances the creative and innovative capacities of young people, qualities that are highly valuable to the creative industries. It has also been validated that youth contribution is a key measure in addition to innovation and labour efficiency that impacts a nation’s competitiveness.
Mohammed Abdullah, Managing Director of Dubai International Academic City (DIAC), said: “We are excited about this new regulation that will allow our 23 universities to attract the brightest and the best talent from around the world. Several knowledge hubs in North America and Europe already allow students to work while they study and so with this initiative Dubai further moves towards becoming a global education powerhouse. This regulation will give us a competitive edge in the region.”
The regulation facilitates a balance between education and industry experience for students, equipping them with the skills needed to properly meet the demands of the modern labour market. It also gives them a head-start in their careers and increases their potential to secure full-time employment by providing them with the opportunity to join the workforce whilst simultaneously pursuing their academic goals.
Maha Jabr, Chief Officer Legal and Regulatory Affairs of DCCA, said: “As a government regulatory body, we believe it is vital for the legal infrastructure to be developed in respond to market demand. We are proud of this regulation, not only because it meets industry needs but also due to the fact that it provides clear guidelines in order to protect both students and businesses.”

The ‘Earn while you Learn’ campaign will allow students enrolled in universities licensed by DCCA, primarily located within Dubai International Academic City and Dubai Knowledge Park, to work across a diverse range of industries including ICT, media, entertainment, human capital development, education, life sciences, energy, environment, fashion, design and outsourcing.