A recent trip to Oman has convinced EAL managing director Julia Chippendale that the UK can and should play a bigger part in developing skills overseas, as well as at home.
The Sultanate of Oman is a noble nation with a vision to skill its people as it seeks to diversify its economy away from many years of a heavy reliance on oil.
It is a country with a proud past, but a dynamic vision for the future – an ambitious in country value programme – with the aim of developing a talent pool of its people at its very heart.
So what has that got to do with us? Well, we have the expertise and knowledge, built up over many years to help support and drive change where it is needed, so it makes perfect sense to export these skills, as well as continuing to be at the heart of the UK’s skills agenda.
EAL’s brand new initiative with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) to increase the number of professional registered engineers, technicians and engineering facilities in Oman is the starting point for a partnership which can make a real difference.
I was struck by the enthusiastic welcome we received and the determination of those we met, and I believe this agreement marks a major milestone for Oman and its industrial development.
EAL has a long standing relationship with Oman, having provided internationally recognised qualifications and certification for many years.
Recently though, we have seen an upsurge in the appetite of the Omanis to get recognition for their learning and a real cognisance that their skills, when they have this international recognition, are a commodity and a route to a prosperous future.
They know the oil is running out and the current crisis on oil prices is putting more pressure on them.
There is a genuine recognition that if Oman is going to survive as a nation, its people have got to learn the skills, acquire the knowledge and develop themselves so they can run the country.
The Sultan has done an excellent job in seeking to transform the workforce by replacing ex-patriots with Omanis and EAL’s alliance with IMechE is a huge step forward in this mission. It will set standards and train thousands of young Omanis, and help to build a bright future.
The agreement sets out a skills ‘roadmap’ aiding Omani nationals to use their vocational qualifications to become professionally recognised engineers, with a real end to end progression route from leaving school, through to eventually becoming a chartered engineer.
We will utilise Semta’s expertise in setting standards and frameworks, while membership of the Institution and EAL certification will provide an international benchmark for engineering skills developed by Omanis.
Through our recognised centres, EAL qualifications have been part of industry in the country for more than 20 years, but this exciting partnership takes it to a whole new level.
I am convinced international demand for UK expertise will only increase and this initiative shows we are very well-placed to support that growth.