Sunday, January 13, 2008

Manufacturers Need Educating

Recent figures indicate that Oman’s manufacturing sector is on the rise and for many companies export order books are full. “The figures are highly encouraging. Clearly, we’re witnessing a fundamental shift in our economy and it’s being driven by globalisation, knowledge, technology and innovation and it’s quickly changing the nature of manufacturing and the type of workforce and skills we need in the sector,” says Hilal Al Ahsani, CEO, PEIE. “Today’s manufacturing sector is knowledge, skills, innovation and enterprise driven and if we’re to keep export order books full we need to ensure that manufacturers stay focused on these key issues.”

Al Ahsani suggests that one way of fostering innovation and enterprise in manufacturing is to strengthen the sector’s ties with higher education. In early 2007, PEIE introduced the Oman Manufacturing Group (OMG), a quarterly networking seminar program that brought together a core of enthusiastic and energetic individuals from manufacturing and academia, committed to developing and sustaining a strong future for Omani manufacturing.

One issue which gives Al Ahsani cause for concern is that manufacturing has historically demonstrated a serious weakness in what he describes as networking capacity. “Bluntly,” says Al Ahsani “not enough people within the sector are talking, interacting and trading with each other. This is why we see OMG as such an important initiative and that’s why we’ve designed a further four OMG seminars for 2008,” says the PEIE CEO.

As well as building networking capacity, Al Ahsani believes there’s a real need to address issues such as productivity, entrepreneurship, innovation and the development and exploitation of new technologies. In fact, central to achieving this, is the continued development and enhancement of long-term collaboration between manufacturing and education and Al Ahsani fully expects the OMG program to a go a long way in helping develop this relationship.

“Manufacturing is a significant economic, social and cultural phenomenon in Oman,” argues Al Ahsani. “We’ve a rich mix of export-facing tenants manufacturing fibre optic cables, batteries, confectionary through to textiles, a relatively mature stock of enterprises in terms of business age, and a high level of business confidence.” Whilst many manufacturers may not see the need for supplementary business support from academia, those that have sought it have generally been highly satisfied with what they have received and how it has helped them take their operations forward.

The first OMG seminar of the year will be held Monday 28 January at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel and is entitled Education, Training & Manufacturing: Going Global. Leading the panel of speakers will be Professor Andrew Self OBE, (pictured) former Pro-Vice Chancellor, Kingston University. OMG seminars are free of charge and open to all. Further information on the 2008 program can be viewed at:
Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE