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Tapping national talent.

Summary: The state cannot fund training in the long run; the employers need to pick up the tab. Organisations need to step up and invest in their peoples career progression, opines Lawrence Alva, CEO of National Training Institute. Excerpts from an interview

How is NTIs vision aligning with the Sultanates vision of training the national workforce and equipping them with relevant skill sets? Building a competent national workforce is essential for the success of any nation. The Sultanate is on the right track to achieve this vision by actively developing national workforce. NTI believes that empowered individuals drive organisational excellence, and this empowerment comes through possessing the right skills and knowledge to face the challenges with confidence. Our role is to impart these competencies to this young national workforce so that they can drive Sultanates vision. NTI constantly engages with the employers to explore and provide training that meet current skill sets that are required by the employers.

Can you talk about some of the major milestone achievements of the institute? Over the past three decades, NTI has grown both in terms of infrastructure development and providing internationally recognised qualifications across a range of skill sets. NTI has actively participated, for the past 28 years, in the Sultanates national objectives initiatives through training for employment scheme. NTI has established partnerships and accreditations with international awarding bodies for providing relevant qualifications. NTI has invested in building and providing state of the art training facilities in par with international standards, including a purpose-built state-of-the art training facility, for training oil and gas technicians.

Established in the year 1985

Within the first five years we grew to be the leading vocational training provider in the country. The institute was relocated to Madinat Sultan Qaboos shopping area by 1990 to accommodate the new business streams.

Transforming into market leaders

NTI engaged with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to develop young Omanis to be employed in the private sector across industries. NTI in collaboration with Chiyoda Foster Wheeler won a significant contract to outsource PDOs HSE training services. NTI transformed into a market leader delivering commercial, technical and HSE training in Oman.

NTI moved into a new, purpose-built, state-of-the-art training campus in Ghala. Our vision is to establish a regional brand by delivering learning solutions to international standards

Enhancing quality through international accreditation A large Omani Publicly listed company, Renaissance Services SAOG, acquired NTI. NTI expanded further with new training projects for Port of Salalah and for supporting Ministry of Social Development initiatives. Built a strong portfolio of international accreditations from awarding bodies like, NEBOSH, IOSH, EAL, CITB, City & Guilds from UK and the American Welding Society and National Safety Council from USA. NTI became the first ISO-certified training provider in the Sultanate of Oman.

Investing in infrastructure and proficiency NTI purchased the IT training franchise of New Horizons Computer Learning Centre from USA for Oman. Invested in state-of-the-art IT training facility to offer world-class IT learning solutions for the growing needs of the private and government sector. NTI achieved the Microsoft Gold Learning Solutions Partner status and became the only Oracle approved education provider in the country. In 2003, NTI was awarded a Vocational Technical Training Project (VTTP) contract by PDO to train the local community youth at Fahud Learning & Development Centre.

Expansion and growth

NTI established two more purpose built training facilities; one in Ghala dedicated to offering HSE courses and another in Sohar offering complete range of NTI product lines. The prestigious BizPro awards were instituted to recognize and promote young Omani leadership talent in the private sector. The Commercial Training Division along with the Head Office relocated to a larger facility at Al Khuwair.

Clients and accolades In the year 2010, NTI won a contract from Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) to provide technical training services for their Technicians Omanisation Programme (TOP). NTI established two separate training facilities in the interior (Marmul and Saih Rawl) exclusively to cater to the oil and gas industries for their HSE training needs. In 2012, NTI won a prestigious contract from BP to provide a world- class technical training centre and technician training services to develop oil and gas technicians for their Kazzan field. January 1, 2014 saw a new dawn in the history of the company as NTI was acquired by Babcock International Group PLC, UK.

Looking forward

NTI moved into a new, purpose built, state of the art training campus in Ghala. Our vision is to establish a regional brand by delivering learning solutions to international standards.

There is a growing mismatch between the skillsets of university graduates and the industry requirements. How is NTI helping the corporates address these concerns in the long run? Universities, world over, provide academic qualifications as part of

the education system. However, the workplaces need more of vocational and/or professional competencies. NTIs role is to provide vocational and professional competencies and qualifications to people in the job or aspiring to enter a particular profession. It is important that job seekers and employers realise that a fine blend of the two i.e. academic and professional competencies is the need for a successful career. NTI provides a range of vocational/professional training programmes and certifications in aid of bridging the gap between university education and industry requirements.

Can you talk about NTIs recent associations and collaboration with various private and public sector companies/ institutes in Oman?

NTI is partnering with many public and private sector companies in Oman. NTI continues to provide various HSE training to PDO contractors. We are running a collaborative project with BP, Omanoil and CCED to upskill their oil and gas technicians. We are in talks with Oman Airports & Duqm Refinery for skill development programmes. Currently, we are delivering a project for the National Training Fund to train and employ over 500 fresh Omani nationals for various employers. For more than a decade we have partnered with Renaissance in identifying the best business professional in Oman through BizPro Awards. We are partnering with OPAL in operating the Oil & Gas technician training centre and to deliver the first ever health & safety apprenticeship training scheme in Oman. We worked closely with OPAL to develop the Oman National Occupational Standards which has been launched recently.

What are the major challenges facing the training industry in Oman? There are multiple challenges in the training industry. The lack of understanding or willingness to invest in people by the employers is a big challenge. The state cannot fund training for long and the employers will need to pick up the tab. The organisations need to step up and invest in their peoples career progression.

The lack of trained mentors at each employing organisations is affecting the development of fresh entrants to the organisation (after completing initial training). We are working at many levels to ensure a smoother career progression of these young Omanis both during the training phase at the centre and the on job training at the employing company sites.

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Publication:Oman Economic Review (OER)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:Dec 2, 2018
Next Article:Navigating related party relationships.

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