Muscat: Half a million youth in Oman will be trained as part of a global initiative to provide children and young adults with the skills they require to thrive in workplaces and communities of the future.
Called Upshift, the programme has been drawn up by UNICEF, and will be run by its local office in Oman, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, along with plenty of participation from the private sector.
Rashad Al Hinai, Undersecretary of Culture, Sports and Youth at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, hoped the programme would provide Omani youth the skills and knowledge required to build their abilities, and help them succeed in future.
“This also transforms the youth and makes them more attractive for employment and grants them better access to the job market,” he said, at the launch of the programme.
“A large number of Omani youth are in the final stages of their education and are preparing to enter the job market. We are today in a challenging economic climate that demands new skills that can keep pace with the developments of this century.
“The Upshift programme is in accordance with Oman Vision 2040, and includes a mix of skills and entrepreneurial approaches that helps youth understand the challenges they will face in their communities and economic environment,” said the undersecretary.
“It grants them the tools required to address them, and I am certain that all the and beneficiaries of this programme will develop the skills to adapt, be resilient, face these challenges, and become active members of their communities, helping build them under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik.”
Upshift is part of UNICEF’s Generation Unlimited initiative, a global partnership that seeks to provide young people greater and better opportunities in education, training and employment.
The programme targets youth between the ages of 10 and 29, and will initially be rolled out across three governorates in Oman, before expanding to other parts of the country.Depending on the age groups of the participants, Upshift has three broad training programmes.
The first is for those preparing to enter the job market. Participating companies will establish an in-house unit to provide employability skills, training and recruit trainees for apprenticeships, internships and on-the-job learning. Academic institutions will also be invited to support skills building.
The second component is the social enterprises virtual training package for young people aged 18 to 29 who will have the opportunity to participate in youth challenges and incubation programmes, receive technical coaching and, potentially, seed money to fund successful ideas and solutions.
The third component is for 10-to-18-year-olds in schools and covers psychosocial skills for resilience and development, transformational leadership, innovative thinking and problem solving.
Lana Al Wreikat, the UNICEF Representative to Oman, added that Upshift has already been rolled out across 30 countries.
“We hope this programme delivers measurable outcomes, as it has been specifically developed based on studies and accurate planning that looks at regional benchmarks, and considers several surveys on the youth and job markets,” she said.
“This initiative is also built on the role of the private sector, so their contribution is of particular importance. Everyone will have their chance to provide more proposals and efforts to implement in different parts of Oman.
“We will have lists of youth that reside in these areas, and will work together with the National Centre for Statistics and Information and Ministry of Social Development, to look at the role of youth,” added Al Wreikat.
“We are trying to know what is necessary for them to learn, look at their realistic needs, and customise initiatives that can essentially be translated into workforce enablement.”
Among those present at the Upshift launch was Areej bint Mohsin Haider Darwish, chairperson, MHD Group of Companies, who said she was glad to support the new initiative. “I am sure other members will also support this strategy,” she added. “We are sure this programme will fall in line and help achieve the targets of Oman Vision 2040.”
Abdul Amir Al Ajmi, Director of External Affairs and Value Creation at Petroleum Development Oman, said the programme could help the country’s youth unlock their potential, which could bring about plenty of positive change in their communities.
“PDO is a company that has been supportive of these initiatives for a while,” he explained, while listing a number of youth development programmes run by the company. “We are always looking forward to any initiatives that strengthen our communities and work with different stakeholders. We look forward to leveraging our experience and best international practices to develop these initiatives.”
Among the efforts run by PDO for youth are the Edaad programme (Arabic for ‘prepare’) that connects the industry with academic institutions that was launched in 2020, and had over 200 participating students. Another is a training and internship effort that supports fresh graduates, which has helped provide more than 500 job opportunities.
The oil and gas company also runs a 12-month internship programme for fresh graduates that provides them advanced skills, professional ethics, and discipline required to participate in the job market, as well as scholarship opportunities for youth who live in areas where PDO operates.
Aimen Al Hosni, the CEO of Oman Airports, also welcomed the arrival of Upshift in Oman, saying it was a great opportunity for companies and youth to learn from each other.
“I am happy to hear of this initiative,” he said. “The end result is to get a product that will help the youth in Oman.”