Oman’s country vision over the next decade includes a drive towards world-class innovation and engineering expertise as it looks to move away from oil dependence. The IET’s new report uncovers the skills gap currently facing the Omani engineering industry, as well as the skills prospects for the next decade that will be vital in maximising the country’s engineering potential and diversifying the economy.
The IET, which has been running skills surveys for the past 18 years, joined forces with market researchers YouGov, and interviewed individuals in Oman with management responsibilities in companies that employ engineers.
The findings cast a positive light on the expansion of the industry, with two thirds (66%) reporting an increase in staff numbers over the past year. However, in the last 12 months almost all (97%) struggled to recruit with problems centred on applicants’ lack of skills, experience, or qualifications, something that could be addressed through the education pipeline.
Sir Julian Young, the IET’s Immediate Past President, said: “The Sultanate of Oman has clear long-term ambitions that support an economic diversification away from oil dependence. With priorities including modernising the education system and building capabilities at a local level, it is clear from our research that there needs to be a re-focus on upskilling, including better collaboration between higher education institutions and industry to provide real-world applications to learning and ensure engineering education is aligned to current and future industry needs.”
And skills aren’t the only barrier with over a third (37%) of respondents reporting a lack of diversity within their workforce as a current challenge – something they still expect to be prevalent in three years’ time (32%).
Dr Laura Norton, the IET’s Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, added: “To achieve its long-term goals, Oman needs to diversify its economy. Successful diversification requires new knowledge, relevant skills and innovation. To access the best skills and knowledge, and to ensure engineering outputs are for all of society, it is important to harness a wide source of talent, yet 37% of managers in our survey think that lack of diversity in the workforce is an issue.”
The research also uncovers that the top ways for Omani engineers to increase their credibility such as completing additional qualifications (43% of those surveyed agreed) and by completing an accredited apprenticeship programme (41%). Registration with a national body (36%) and membership of an international professional body (34%) help too.
The IET has developed action areas for government, practitioners, industry and academia that build on strengthening collaboration, embedding practical work experience, skills development, professional registration and diversification.