‘Core skills required for jobs to change in future’

Muscat: Oman’s Future Skills initiative hosted a fast-paced expert lead, private sector briefing at the Kempinski Hotel in Muscat, under the Chairmanship of Dr. Ali bin Masoud Al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry and Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Council for Planning.

The briefings included a keynote session by Saadia Al Zahidi, managing director from the World Economic Forum’s Centre for New Economy and Society, and Ayad Al Balushi, the Integration Management Office Lead, heading up the Oman Oil/Orpic merger under the Nakhla initiative.

Both the speakers provided insights into the ways in which institutions and national economies may keep pace with the new trends of global labour markets. A select group of 35 delegates attended the briefings across the spectrum of the private sector including representatives of tourism, energy, finance, telecommunications and technology markets, to name a few.

During Al Sunaidy’s welcome note he highlighted, “Through our continuous participation with the private-sector over time, we can see optimistic estimates around emerging tasks and growing jobs expected to offset transforming responsibilities in the workplace across industries.”

As emphasised by Dr Ali Al Sunaidy, “We don’t want this to be a government-led initiative, or a World Economic Forum-led initiative. We are here to facilitate private sector participation to take the lead in this initiative to co-create partnerships across the economy to deliver impact at grassroots level.”

Saadia Al Zahidi remarked to the audience that by 2022, the core skills required for jobs of the future will change significantly.

“Employees globally will need 101 days of on-the job training to prepare them for the employment landscape of the future.”

Al Zahidi’s keynote address also touched on the expanding portfolio of the World Economic Forum and mandate to take on projects required to tackle global challenges creating opportunities across numerous platforms.

She emphasised the fundamental role of public-private private partnerships in addressing those challenges.

Oman’s Future Skills Initiative, launched in partnership with the World Economic Forum (WEF), will serve as a model that will address those very challenges, drawing on the combined resources of government and private industry to identify and develop the skills that will be required for the workplace of the future.

Ayad Al Balushi elaborated on how systems in Oman were keeping pace with increasing demands while being faced with continuous disruptions ranging from technological innovations to changing demographics.

On the topic of changing demographics, Al Balushi noted that 60 per cent of their nearly 5,800 employees were under the age of 35, and this shift in the demographic was precipitating a notable shift in the way in which their organisation operated. “Millennials don’t expect to be told what to do; they would rather be told why they are being asked to do it, and how their role contributes to the success of the organisation.”

Identifying key distinctions such as these contribute to the fundamental work of culture building that forms an integral part of the Nakhla initiative.

“Culture is not just a fluffy term we use thoughtlessly,” said Al Balushi, adding that ensuring a strong work culture has led directly to tangible results in the form of “money in the bank.”

Strong work culture

Aside from the heady task of building a strong work culture, the Oman Oil/Orpic team have already began to invest in new technologies, with automation of certain jobs already resulting in significant operational efficiencies.

Looking into the immediate future, Al Balushi stated that announced other disruptive technologies, the organisation was set to deploy the use of drone technology in partnership with a local small and medium enterprise (SME), as well as the planned integration of blockchain technology particularly in areas such as documentation and data-sharing.

The objective of the briefings was to initiate a fruitful dialogue with the private sector through an exchange of knowledge by way of the addresses of the keynote speakers, as well as through Q&A sessions, a recap of the key take-aways provided by The Economist Intelligence Unit, and initiative an extensive- employers survey completed by the delegates.

During the Q&A sessions, the delegates and the keynote speakers discussed critical issues such as the practical implementation of the strategies of the World Economic Forum, the impact of such disruptive technologies on the existing workforce, and the shift in mindset that would be required by government and private sector leaders alike in order to address the change required.

In conclusion, the initiative emphasised the involvement of the private sector will play a vital role in achieving the mission to deliver impact, drawing on all its players from international corporations to SMEs to help identify the key challenges, and consider innovative solutions to address them.

(Times of Oman)

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