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ADEK Launches New Training Pathway for Students of Determination

by Eddie Rayner

The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) has launched a new hospitality training programme for students of determination studying at Al Karamah Training Institute (AKTI), the first professional training centre in the UAE for Emirati students on the autism spectrum, in partnership with the Il Caffé Di Roma chain in Abu Dhabi.

Based out of Il Caffè Di Roma on the grounds of the purpose-built AKTI within Al Karamah School, the new skills development scheme offers a range of vocational hospitality training programmes. AKTI Students training at the new café will get career opportunities at the café, other Il Caffé Di Roma branches, or join the wider hospitality sector upon completing their training programme.

Welcoming customers daily from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm, the new café will enable students to engage with customers, and take and help prepare orders to further enhance their social skills and streamline their inclusion within their community.

The new coffee shop was officially inaugurated today in a special event attended by HE Amer Al Hammadi, ADEK Undersecretary, accompanied by Hamed Al Hamed, Chairman of HMS, the exclusive franchise owner of Il Caffé Di Roma in Abu Dhabi. The guests were among the first customers to be served by students of determination trainees who are operating the café branch under the supervision of expert trainers.

“This is a major step forward in Al Karamah Training Institute’s goal to empower Students of Determination with future pathways for independent living and employment opportunities,” commented HE Al Hammadi. “This initiative complements our efforts to support students of determination as the trainees are graduates of Al Karamah School and all passed initial training stages at the institute. Today, as they join one of the most dynamic sectors, they provide further proof of their dedication to being active pillars of our community.”

Al Karamah Training Institute (AKTI) partners Il Caffé Di Roma to open a student-operated outlet located at the institute

With some AKTI students already starting their career journeys within the new branch, the café will see students gain specialised and individual hospitality training to open career pathways in barista and food operations, customer service, cashier, and other duties within the sector.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to put inclusion into action beyond education,” said Hamed Al Hamed. “We have already identified considerable potential among students who are relishing the chance to learn, engage with customers, and progress their own futures. It is truly eye-opening to witness their commitment. We hope this initiative will inspire more private entities to exert more efforts to include more students of determination in the workplace, given their remarkable response to training.”

Lucy Wood, AKTI’s Principal said: “we see the breakthrough Il Caffé Di Roma partnership as a vehicle to spread greater understanding and acceptance of autism within the general community. Via this café, customers are engaging with students on the autism spectrum and gaining a better understanding of the immense potential of trainees. We anticipate the café winning widespread community support in the coming months.”

AKTI, which works with students aged 15 years old and above, is a central pillar of ADEK’s inclusion strategy for Students of Determination and a milestone for the wider Abu Dhabi Comprehensive Strategy for People of Determination.

An inclusive hospitality training scheme opens career pathways for students of determination and empowers them to be active members of society

ADEK opened AKTI, a vocational training centre for people of determination who graduate from Al Karamah School, in April 2021. Its aim is to provide various industry training pathways via strategic partnerships with entities offering professional training in eight key industries linked to the UAE’s future human capital needs: Electronics and Robotics, Hydroponics and Aeroponics, Culinary and Hospitality, Creative Arts, Business Administration, Print and Design, Gaming and E-sports and Video Production and Editing.

AKTI has partnered with major industry leaders to create a cache of specialist certified vocational courses, with students empowered to gain recognised qualifications from UK award bodies including Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network (ASDAN) and the National Open College Network (NOCN). The UAE-wide inclusion initiatives have recruited partner national entities, including Mubadala’s Strata Manufacturing and Abu Dhabi Telemedicine Centre which commit to train and recruit Students of Determination within their workforces.

AKTI consists of state-of-the-art specialist facilities including innovation and gaming rooms, a video production and editing studio, an industrial kitchen, creative studios, and a sensory garden. The school and training institute are operated by the UK’s Priory Education and Children’s Services, an independent education provider for Students of Determination and part of the world-renowned Priory Group.