The Possibilities Project, a free book, launches in the UAE for students

71% of hiring decision-makers in the UAE do not think students are prepared for work


The Possibilities Project, a new, free careers book launched yesterday at The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in order to help students bridge the gap between education and work. Drawing on the experiences of some of the brightest minds in the UAE, and beyond, the book has been produced in response to the startling fact that almost three quarters (71%*[1]) of hiring decision makers in the UAE agree that students are not prepared for work upon leaving school and university, also agreeing that this impacts economic potential. These are the findings from the groundbreaking research, commissioned by the team behind The Possibilities Project.

Nineteen contributors share their experiences, insights and practical advice to help young people navigate change, make decisions and prepare to embark on their career journey. The book comprises many different perspectives and addresses topics including: communication, presentation skills, online safety, recruitment, networking, entrepreneurship, resilience and navigating change/dealing with adversity.

There is an emphasis on soft skills throughout The Possibilities Project, because almost four fifths (78%) of hiring decision makers in the UAE believe that employees with good soft skills are more productive. Almost two thirds (65%) think soft skills are important because they are needed in every job role, with 69% believing that they are required at every level of seniority. The top five workplace skills that respondents think will be the most important in 2020 and beyond are:

  • Creativity (48%)
  • Problem solving (47%)
  • Decision making (44%)
  • Digital skills (43%)
  • Data analytics (39%)

The Possibilities Project has been produced by Dawn Metcalfe, Workplace Culture Advisor and Managing Director, and Sarah Bahar, Head of Communication and Engagement, at PDSi, in order to help young people gain a better understanding of the skills and behaviours which will be expected from them in the workplace and develop a foundation on which they can build on as they transition from education to work.

The contributors to The Possibilities Project range from business leaders, entrepreneurs and journalists, to communications specialists, philanthropists and visionaries:

HE Noura Al Kaabi (Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development)

Aby Sam Thomas (Entrepreneur Middle East)

Alex Malouf (Media and communications specialist)

Amna Al Haddad (First Emirati Hijabi Olympic Weightlifter)

Anna Roberts (Broadcaster/presenter)

Dawn Metcalfe (The Possibilities Project founder)

Emma Carbery (Mindfulness Dubai)

Fahad Khalaf (Emirati recruitment specialist)

Isobel Abulhoul OBE (Founder of Emirates Airline Festival of Literature)

Kristin Sherry (Career coach and author)

Lucy Chow (Entrepreneur and investment specialist)

Mashal Waqar (The Tempest)

Muna Al Gurg (Al Gurg Group)

Richard Dean (Broadcaster/author)

Sarah Bahar (The Possibilities Project founder)

Tamara Clarke (Journalist and children’s author)

Dr Tiffany Delport (Emirates Environmental Group)

Walid Fakih (McDonald’s UAE)

Ziauddin Yousafzai (Malala Fund)

“We live in rapidly changing times, where modern technologies have completely changed the scene. Jobs that are currently on the market may not be available in the future, therefore, we must prepare our youth by providing them with the skills required to excel in the workplace. It is also important to link university majors to the job market in order to arm graduates with the skills and capability of being creative in an environment that is becoming increasingly competitive.” HE Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development

“In the UAE, our youth are raised with the idea that nothing is impossible, and no dream is ever out of reach. The challenge is how to transform aspirations into reality. The Possibilities Project offers realistic and achievable guidance in pursuing one’s career goals through expert advice and time-tested solutions to issues that students, entrepreneurs, and job seekers face. Metcalfe and Bahar excel in empowering and equipping youth with the skills necessary to thrive in today’s job market.” HE Hend Mana Al Otaiba, Director of Strategic Communications, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation

“At PDSi we work with businesses from every sector imaginable and they all have one thing in common: people. There is, and always has been, a need for great people and, despite the robots, that won’t go away. Schools and universities alone can’t prepare young people for success at work - it takes a village. We’ve been overwhelmed by the support from the business community in helping us produce this book, but we believe we have a long way to go. Our mission is to grow the ecosystem of organisations who are committed to shaping the UAE’s future workforce.We call on all those interested to get in touch.” Dawn Metcalfe, Workplace Culture Advisor and Managing Director of PDSi, The Possibilities Project author.

The Possibilities Project was launched at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature with a panel session focused on the future of work and the skills and behaviours young people need to succeed. The panel session was held with three of the contributing authors: communication educator and award-winning radio/TV presenter and speaker Anna Al Qasimi-Roberts, journalist, writer and Editor-in-Chief of Entrepreneur Middle EastAby Sam Thomas and entrepreneur, CTO and Forbes 30 Under 30 Mashal Waqar, chaired by workplace culture expert, author and speaker Dawn Metcalfe.

Sponsors of The Possibilities Book

The Possibilities Project has been produced through sponsorship by three local partners, Grant Thornton UAE, McDonald’s UAE and PwC Middle East. With their generous contributions, the team has been able to ensure that 10,000 print copies of the book are available in the UAE, and the e-book is available worldwide for free download at:

To learn more about The Possibilities Project and to find out how young people, schools and organisations can get free copies of the book, visit:

[1] The research was conducted by Censuswide, with 300 hiring decision makers in UAE between 10.12.2019 - 19.12.2019. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

© Press Release 2020

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