Muscat: A dedicated training programme for developing Omani workforce in the manufacturing sector was launched on Wednesday.
As part of Oman Manufacturing Group (OMG) series of events organised by the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE), a seminar was held on the role of qualified national cadres in the manufacturing sector at InterContinental Muscat on Wednesday.
During the event, PEIE launched a dedicated training programme for developing Omani workforce in the manufacturing sector – Azeemati, which is supported by Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) and National Training Fund (NTF).
Speaking at the event, Hilal bin Hamad Al Hasani, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PEIE, stressed that this Oman Manufacturing Group meeting is very special due to the fact that a major step is being taken to strengthen the industrial sector, by providing a dedicated human capital development programme.
“Thanks to the valuable financial and advisory support received from Petroleum Development Oman and the newly formed National Training Fund,” Al Hasani pointed out.
He added, “Since a few years, apart from providing excellent infrastructure, PEIE has been functioning as a harbinger of progressive changes to create a vibrant industrial community in Oman. The setting up of the Industrial Innovation Centre, National Business Centre and most importantly creating our own private investment arm called Shumookh Investment and Services Company have transformed the way we function. We now work hand-in-hand with the private sector through many PPP projects”.
Speaking about Azeemati programme, al-Hasani said, “Through the Azeemati initiative, we are launching today, there is going to be focus on Quality Omanisation. That is, through a structured training programme over 8 to 12 months, we will develop highly skilled and motivated industry-ready Omani workforce. It is quite a pleasant coincidence that both PDO and NTF are adopting significant strategies to develop Omani workforce in various sectors and we, PEIE, could gel with their ambitions.”.
“There are many stakeholders giving the manufacturing sector a great opportunity,” Al Hasani said, adding: “I urge the industrialists not to undermine this great opportunity to get highly trained people. They should simply grab this opportunity and benefit from it”.
Azeemati initiative was then launched at the seminar in line with social responsibility framework and PEIE’s keenness to actively contribute to solve the challenges faced by jobseekers. PEIE has made great efforts in order to develop a mechanism and create job opportunities for young job seekers in the various industrial estates pertaining to PEIE. Azeemati programme shall subject the candidates for an intensive training programme to equip them with necessary skills before getting involved in various technical disciplines, as well as management skills in line with the National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) and other technical qualifications. The programme comprises foundation period to provide the trainees with initial skills, for instance in English language, work ethics, health and safety, and information technology.
In this respect, PEIE signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) to fund a training programme for jobseekers registered in the Public Authority of Manpower Register. The programme will continue for a period of 12 months in a specialised institute. A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed between PEIE and the National Training Fund (NTF) to facilitate full time employment of trainees. The MoU aims at facilitating employment of trainees on full time basis following successful completion of their training programme. The National Training Fund shall finance the training programme following allocation of the trainees to the companies operating in the various fields of manufacturing and other fields in the industrial estates pertaining to PEIE in the various governorates of the Sultanate.
PEIE has placed a series of measures and mechanisms to implement Azeemati programme, and will serve as a link between the candidates, employers and the training institute. PEIE will monitor the trainees during the training period, and assure their employment immediately upon completion of the programme successfully. PEIE will also follow up the companies’ implementation of Ministry of Manpower’s regulations, and related parties. PEIE has developed an online form on its website to identify the requirements of the companies and factories in terms of manpower in the coming period. Receipt of this data is under process.
On his part, Allan Gardner, International HR Consultant, spoke about Omanisation and investment through training and development. He mentioned that the role of goal of nationalisation is to place qualified nationals into the technical, professional and labour roles currently held by expatriates. Gardner also highlighted the elements that shape successful nationalisation, which include encouraging private sector nationalisation efforts, promoting self-employment, increasing technical training, among other elements.
The panelists highlighted the challenges the industry is facing today in relation to Omanisation, and the short and long term solutions to move the needle. The speakers noted that there are many unemployed young people in the country, but there are also many companies today in Oman looking for talented Omanis. “It is a talented based economy, so the ability to acquire and apply knowledge to solve business problems today has become more important than any other form of capital in ensuring economic success for both business and individuals,” the panelists stated.
They added that the challenge lies in the skill gap. Both supply and demand dynamics are driving the skill gaps wider. In terms of the supply, poor quality of the education and training is noted, and in terms of the demand, the technology and business challenges due to competitive market have raised the bar high. Therefore, to make these training very successful, there must partnership between training institutes and private sector to ensure that students are equipped with the right practical knowledge to fulfill the industry’s requirements.
The speakers also stressed that the public sector should open a dialogue with the private sector to Omanise certain position and see what skills are required to get those positions Omanised, and then focus on training the Omanis to fill those positions.
They added that one of the challenges that face the industry today is the soft skills of the employees. “Training is the starting point. We should train young Omanis first on the soft skills, and then focus on the job skills. The policymakers should consider temporary contract for Omanis to start with, then six months later once both parties are satisfied (employee and employer). Afterwards, these contracts can be made permanent.
The OMG series of seminars aim at underlining various areas related to businessmen, employees and students of higher education institutions in the Sultanate. OMG seminars have been initiated to bring together local manufacturers and various industries to network and discuss on the recent trends triggered in the industry and promote the development of the manufacturing sector in Oman.