It’s high time training institutes focussed on offering programmes customised to specific industries, instead of sticking to syllabus-driven programmes, says Lawrence Alva, CEO of National Training Institute. Excerpts from an interview
What are the latest trends in Oman’s technical and vocational education?
In Oman, for over a decade, technical and vocational training has taken centre stage. Government bodies such as PDO, NTF and OPAL are taking the lead to standardise and streamline training procedures and curricula across institutes. Along with that, the approval criteria for training institutes have been made far more stringent to maintain training at the highest standard. With a continued focus at the On-Job-Training (OJT) model, the industry-specific customisation of training is being given utmost importance.
Manufacturing is one of the vital sectors identified by the government for economic diversification. The sector is expected to generate job opportunities in several niche industries. But we are suffering from an acute shortage of skills and lack of trained national workforce to meet these requirements. How institutions like NTI are gearing up to address this mismatch?
National Training Institute (NTI) is one of the very few institutes that works with clients across various sectors and caters to training their staff with the skills required for specific jobs. NTI associates with clients as a training partner, rather than a training provider. As a training partner (NTI), provides tailor-made training solutions to clients rather than off-the-shelf solutions which may or may not be specific to the requirement.
NTI has always been proactive to adapt, adopt, invest and meet the needs of the ever-changing/challenging training needs. We identify the skill sets required for the manufacturing industry, develop and deliver internationally accredited training courses which in turn provides a competent and certified national workforce to meet the industry’s requirements. The inclusion of On-Job-Training (OJT) at the client’s workplace within our designed programs, helps the learners pick up skills in actual working conditions.
Can you talk about your collaboration with industries and corporates to train their staff? Tell us about the partnerships you have entered into recently?
NTI has collaborated with various industries like oil and gas, construction, water desalination, power generation and manufacturing. Within the corporates, we have been in partnerships with the banking and telecommunication industry at large. We always focus on providing customised training solutions to all the industries and corporates that we partner with. Before a training programme is designed and developed, each and every need of the client is understood and carefully studied. This followed by an in-depth discussion with the client, makes the training customised only for that particular client within a larger industry.
Few of the industries and corporates that NTI has partnered with are as follows:
- Oil & Gas – Petroleum Development of Oman, Oman L&G, Oman Oil, BP and CCED
- Construction – Liwa Plastics Projects (ORPIC contractors and sub-contractors), Duqm Refinery Projects (Duqm Refinery Company contractors and sub-contractors)
- Manufacturing – Arabian Industries Projects, Chicago Bridge & Iron Company (Welding & Fabrication)
- Water Desalination & Electricity Generation – Engie STOMO, NOMAC.
Give us a brief on the various technical and vocational courses that NTI offers?
NTI delivers a whole plethora of courses that cover various training divisions like HSE courses, Technical courses, Oil & Gas specific courses, Soft Skills Courses, Management courses, IT Courses and Language courses.
What are the main challenges facing the sector?
The major challenge faced by the training industry is the mismatch between the need of the client/organisation and the programmes being delivered. Training institutes are still focussing on syllabus driven programmes rather than focussing on programmes being customised to a specific industry/company.
The various regulatory bodies have a common national goal to develop the local force. However, they are not completely aligned with their efforts in trying to achieve their goal.
With the increase in the number of smaller training providers, the quality of the training industry has taken a hit with some training providers functioning without the right facilities to be able to deliver programmes. This has resulted in training programmes being delivered at lower prices which in turn undermines the quality of training provided across the Sultanate. Auditing the facilities and competencies of institutes need to be emphasised to maintain the training of the highest standard.
What are your future plans?
NTI will continue to maintain and improve training quality standards and focus on improving the training infrastructure to provide the latest and state-of-the-art training equipment for the trainees. NTI is studying opportunities in investing in technology and new methods of learning like augmented training, E-Learning and other various ways to allow our students to experience different techniques of learning and to get a more realistic feel of their workplace.
Based on the market requirements and changes, NTI will identify and work towards achieving the latest accreditations along with the provision of various international qualifications that are appropriate for the various job roles within various industries.
We will continue to work with all stakeholders to support and develop appropriate curricula for training requirements for different industries by closely monitoring the training requirements for the manufacturing, solar power, logisitics and other non-oil & gas sectors.