With great foresight, vision and courage, His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, directed that the Vocational Education Centre (VEDC) be established as a matter of urgency to provide an opportunity for young men who have disengaged from the formal education system. VEDC is a boarding institute that caters for Emiratis who have an interest in vocational studies rather than mainstream academic education, enabling them to become citizens who will play an active role in contributing to the UAE society and economy. Our programmes are industry-based and all our graduates are given assistance to find a job at the end of their programme. VEDC offers alternative learning pathways which focus on applied learning methods (hands-on learning) which are well integrated with a personal development programme that educates young men in self-discipline, work ethics and employability skills that enable them to keep on the right track for lifelong employment. The provision of education and training in VEDC is carried out in three Schools:

1. Foundation School;

2. Vocational Training School;

3. Leadership and Military Training School.

This school-within-a-school model enables VEDC to be partitioned into smaller educational units that plan and run their own programmes, have their own staff and students, and have their own dedicated school buildings on the VEDC site. A great deal of educational research has shown that this model greatly enhances student achievement and well-being, enabling a greater sense of ‘community’ and strengthening working relationships between students and staff.

At VEDC this model provides a further opportunity to define clear progression pathways through each school and into employment: students graduate from the Foundation School into the specialized school of their choice, graduating from here to full-time employment. There are 3 intakes of new students to VEDC every academic year, which occur at the start of each trimester in September, January and April. Entrants must fulfil the following requirements:

1. Have completed a minimum of Grade 6;

2. Be aged between 14 and 23 years of age;

3. Be a UAE National.

New entrants will follow an induction programme for 2 weeks that will enable them to become familiar with the nature of study at VEDC. Following this a streaming process will take place to ensure that students are placed in appropriate teaching groups in the Foundation School. Operating a trimesterbased intake allows more personalised learning pathways that are matched to students’ skills, knowledge and understanding. Subsequently, graduation from VEDC takes place in three cohorts per academic year, with a single graduation ceremony held in the summer trimester.