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Sorbonne Abu Dhabi hosts its most successful Astrolabe, attracting a record 2,000 students, employers and alumni

Sorbonne Abu Dhabi hosts its most successful Astrolabe, attracting a record 2,000 students, employers and alumni

In the most heavily attended Astrolabe so far, Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi has hosted the 4th edition of one of the region’s most eagerly awaited career forums. Astrolabe 2014 was graced by several respected dignitaries led by the Patron, His Excellency Sheikh Al Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth & Community Development.

The distinguished Guests of Honour were H.E Dr Mugheer Al Khaili – Vice President of the Management Council of Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, Chairman of the Health Authority and member of the Executive Council; H.E. Zaki Nusseibeh - Cultural Advisor at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and member of the Management Council at Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi; H.E. Michel Miraillet - French Ambassador to the UAE; and Dr Masood Abdallah Badri - Head of Planning, Policies & Performance Management at ADEC and member of the Management Council at Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi.

Over 2,000 students and alumni interacted face-to-face with almost 50 exhibitors, getting insider tips from employers in aviation, advisory services, business, defence, energy, environment, estate, finance, hospitality, HR, law, luxury retail, NGOs, oil and gas, among other industries.

According to the 2014 Middle East Salary Guide compiled by research firm Robert Half, 36% of employers in Abu Dhabi and the region indicate that staff turnover is increasing, as skilled professionals now have greater freedom to seek more attractive openings across the region and in the Francophone world. One catalyst for this trend is that graduates are increasingly becoming multi-skilled and multilingual instead of restricting themselves to Arabic and English. With international languages such as French and Spanish that are taught at Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, graduates can now pursue greener pastures on virtually any continent in the world.

Prof Eric Fouache, Vice Chancellor of Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, expressed his delight at the high turnout, adding: “Just like the city of Abu Dhabi itself, each year our Astrolabe forum is becoming bigger and more diverse. In one venue, visitors encounter a fascinating cross-section of the entire job market. In just one day of face-to-face interaction, visitors learn real-world knowledge directly from the experts, which might have taken them years to acquire.”

The latest survey of Middle East employers also reveals that the most valued strengths in a candidate are team networking (25%), technology (24%), business expertise (21%), communication (16%) and leadership (11%).

A student visitor, Noura Aleryani summed up her experience at Astrolabe 2014: “Although I’m three years away from graduating, I don’t want to wait until the last minute to plan my career. This one-on-one advice with employers really gave me valuable “behind the scenes” tips from the recruiters themselves, which I would never have known. This will give me the edge over other job seekers, and also guide my choice of study programme.”

Meanwhile a Sorbonne Abu Dhabi alumnus, Rawdha AlMeraikhi, who graduated in 2012 said: “I started at the Sorbonne Abu Dhabi without knowing a single word of French. After graduating I became an Export Development Officer within the Foreign Trade & Export Support Division of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED). Finding a great job today is extremely competitive, so students must create a brand out of themselves. Volunteer work and training courses give students the edge. For instance in one of my volunteer posts I met the former President of France. Astrolabe opens up exciting opportunities in both the private and governmental sector. I am thankful because ADDED gave me excellent exposure and the platform to showcase my skills, while assessing the export capabilities of Abu Dhabi factories. Shortly I will visit France to help promote Abu Dhabi exports, and I will put my French skills to excellent use.”

“Our mission at Bayt.com is to empower people with the tools and information to create their lifestyle of choice,” said Suhail Masri, VP of Sales at Bayt.com. “As such, we’re happy to be the strategic career partner of the Astrolabe Career Fair, where our career experts have shed light on modern job search strategies. Apart from providing free CV consultancy to visitors, our team has delivered a special presentation focusing on CV writing and successful job search techniques.”

According to Robert Half, areas with the biggest shortage of skilled professionals include Financial Management (28%), Accounting (27%), Tax & Treasury (24%) -- with these candidates required in real estate, construction, FMCG and oil and gas. Meanwhile IT skills are heavily sought-after in engineering, pharma / healthcare, consultancy and financial services. Phenomenal rewards await those who rise up the corporate ladder, with annual salaries going as high as US$550,000 for top financial specialists, US$430,000 for top IT specialists, US$400,000 for senior legal specialists and US$250,000 in HR, among other positions.

Future editions of the Astrolabe are expected to attract even greater participation from the public and private sector, cementing its status as one of the region’s top career showcases.

Contributing to the event’s success is the Strategic Career Partner, Bayt.com, and the supporting partners Air France, KLM, Etihad Airlines, ITL World and Nirvana Travel & Tourism.

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