RAISING THE BAR

Oman 2019 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

NTI is developing Oman's workforce to bridge the gap between demand and supply by acting as an enabler for job seekers, employers, and training agencies.

Lawrence Alva
BIOGRAPHY
Lawrence Alva is CEO of NTI Oman and has over 30 years of experience in training and development. His credentials include membership in the Chartered Management Institute UK and the Indian Society for Training and Development. He is a certified alumni of the Leadership Academy of New Horizons University (US), an Associate Member of IOSH UK, and holds an MBA in educational management from the University of Leicester, UK.

What is NTI's role in helping provide jobs to the oil and gas industry?

The role of NTI is to develop the national workforce to bridge the gap between educational supply and the demands of the labour market. Being a vocational training provider, we constantly reach out to a large number of employers within the oil and gas sector to understand their needs and expectations and align our programs by following rigorous training needs analysis. This helps us customize our programs to industry needs and gain total customer satisfaction. We bridge this gap by acting as an enabler between job seekers, employers, and the training agency.

How do you differ from other vocational training institutes?

At NTI, we consider our clients as partners. We believe that effective partnership between the client and training provider is the key to total customer satisfaction. To ensure the effectiveness of this partnership, we engage with them at different stages and various levels of the training solution provision. These engagements help achieve the desired quality training outcomes of the program. What's more, we provide the best in class infrastructure, facilities, and services, far ahead of the competition.

The enrolment for tertiary education or vocational training in Oman is around 8%. What needs to be done to improve the pipeline?

Oman is at a much higher percentage compared to the rest of the GCC, especially in vocational training. However, a lot needs to be done to attract the Omani youth to entry-level jobs in various industry segments. Employers and various industry bodies should also contribute by giving due recognition and dignity to all jobs.

How would you assess Omanization efforts thus far?

These are certainly yielding the desired results, although much more needs to be done. The policies implemented to make private sector jobs attractive have remarkably improved the numbers in different sectors. However, the attrition is high at entry roles due to the lack of a structured training and development plan for new entrants; this needs to be addressed. Another challenge is the wage disparity; employing an expatriate worker becomes financially viable for the private sector compared to the cost of employing an Omani.

In which sectors do you foresee growth in demand for vocational training?

Tourism and logistics will be the emerging sectors. Tourism is not our forte, though the supporting industries for tourism offer an opportunity for our courses. For example, construction for the tourism industry is booming, and, therefore, construction technicians, electricians, and welders are needed. Logistics is another area being heavily promoted; however, we have not seen much movement in training and employment in this segment as of yet.

As a focus of Oman's diversification strategy, how will training follow manufacturing growth?

The rate of Omanization in the manufacturing sector is low compared to other sectors. We are well placed to establish realistic partnerships with the employers in creating and delivering apprenticeship programs that have the right balance of both off- and on-the-job training and assessment. Another important area will be to support employers in creating a continual professional development framework for new entrants and supporting their training needs to reduce attrition.

How prepared is NTI for regional expansion?

We are constantly raising the bar with respect to the market needs and expectation. We have great infrastructure and systems in place, and we have the expertise, market knowledge, and a long history of training in the region. We are well prepared for expansion within the region if situations prove conducive. At present, our focus is on ensuring sustainable business operations within Oman.