UAE Business Awards 2023

UAE Business Awards 2023 GEMS For Life was launched in early 2021 and swiftly made its mark as a unique programme that separated GEMS Education from all other private education providers around the world. It offers unique benefits to its students while still at school and then delivers support when they graduate and take on the many challenges that destiny has in store for them – for life. No wonder then that it has claimed a special place among our UAE Business Awards winners for 2023. We talk to MATTHEW TOMPKINS, Director of Student Employability for GEMS For Life, to find out more. EMS for Life is a one-stop, multi-faceted programme that builds on GEMS Education’s world-class school services. In a nutshell, it offers student employability through internships and many other touchpoints with industry, university placements support and scholarships, plus alumni engagement and a host of extra lifestyle benefits that will support its members for life. GEMS’ story began in 1959 with two humble but ambitious teachers, KS Varkey and his wife Mariamma, who arrived in Dubai with little more than two suitcases, the clothes they stood up in, and a driving ambition to teach any student willing to learn. At the time, Dubai was a burgeoning trade centre on the Arabian Gulf and the formation of the United Arab Emirates was still 12 years away. The Varkey family had left Kerala, India, to seek a better life for their family. What they found was a real need to educate not only the locals but all manner of expats arriving in the city from around the world. Their son, Sunny, added a visionary’s ambition to his parents’ teaching experience and expertise when he joined them in 1980 and together they constructed a true educational powerhouse that now teaches some 170,000 students worldwide from schools based in eight countries. With a vision to expand its world-class support beyond education to all aspects of life for all members of the GEMS community – past, present, and future – GEMS For Life focuses on three fundamental areas: employability skills, university partnerships, and alumni services. This is supplemented by GEMS’ award-winning loyalty programme, GEMS Rewards, to support the lifelong, 360-degree guardianship of its community. GEMS Rewards benefit its members – which also includes the GEMS For Life communities – with a host of lifestyle services that will cover everything from holiday and dining offers to health and wellbeing support. Matthew Tompkins, a former successful school head in the UK and with GEMS in the UAE and now Director of Student Employability at GEMS for Life, tells us that the employability programme aims to give GEMS students a head-start with the opportunity to draw on its ever-expanding pool of industry partners. “We support the development of 21st century employability skills and offer in-school and on-the-job experiences of the future work environment,” he explains. “Our alumni are deeply involved through providing a number of the industry experiences and benefiting themselves from the courses and opportunities that we are able to offer.” Matthew’s previous school experience prior to moving to Dubai was in Kent, England, where he worked at four schools, all of them providing excellent development opportunities for him to flourish as a leader. Over those 21 years, Matthew worked as part of many great teams and learned from the colleagues surrounding him. Through GEMS for Life, students gain distinctive advantages within the world of work by experiencing the workplace with some of the world’s top companies that are partnered with the programme including DP World, KPMG, and Microsoft. GEMS For Life supports students to draw on its ever-expanding pool of industry partners for real-world work experiences, internships, and paid placements, building life-long connections and growing a strong network for future employment. The students benefit from expert GEMS For Life career guidance counsellors as well as established GEMS alumni and corporate partners, engaging in industry events, activities, and courses for support and insight to explore future career paths. Additionally, the programme provides opportunities for students to interact with industry from outside the UAE. Additionally, GEMS empowers all its students to transition successfully to higher education by making the right university choices that are relevant to their individual needs. It does this by providing a wealth of opportunities to discover their best-fit university options. “We partner hand-picked institutional partners and pre-vetted education service providers who offer special scholarships and discounts for GEMS For Life students, as well as a wealth of engagement opportunities through education fairs, insightful workshops, and learner pathway opportunities,” continues Matthew. “The partnerships complement the expert guidance every GEMS student receives via their in-school University Guidance Counsellors, supported by ensuring they also have access to the best tech platforms to prepare for university admissions.” In supporting them with some of the biggest decisions they will make about their futures, GEMS for Life provides students and their G Most Impactful School Community Initiative of the Year -UAE