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Equipping Nationals with the Skills of Tomorrow

Edward Gallagher, Managing Director of Integrated Services, Serco Middle East & Hana Abu Kharmeh, HR Director Serco Middle East discuss the skills nationals will need in a post-COVID world. 

Never before has building a next generation workforce, equipped with the right skills and the right tools for success been so critical. As the world emerges from lockdown, businesses, governments and citizens will have to adapt to changes in the way we work, live and play. Ensuring that the workforce is, in turn, educated and trained to provide and meet the expectations of the ‘new customer’ is vital to delivery of world-class customer-orientated service.

Whilst utilising the latest technology and innovations plays into the user experience, so too does the human element of those delivering these frontline services. In short, we need an excellent workforce to deliver an excellent citizen service. Nationals - as part of the UAE and KSA nationalisation agenda - have a huge part to play.

What we are seeing here is the emergence of a new workforce, and it is one that has to adapt to the new needs and wants of its country’s citizens. It is this workforce that presents a clear opportunity for nationals to accelerate their careers, and support and thrive in the country that their families have lived and grown up in.

Equipping nationals with the right skills

Whilst the DNA of what makes a great employee will still remain (excellent work ethic, positive attitude and skills related to the specific role), in this post-COVID world, the talent that will thrive are those who have built up new skills along the way. Now more than ever there is a focus on communication. Ensuring that we build a future national workforce that has the right skills to communicate effectively across the board is key – from face to face, incorporating new normals of social distancing and face masks, through to sophisticated use of available technology to communicate with people remotely. This is especially important with the fundamental makeup of the workforce changing. Virtual working environments will become more prevalent than ever before, so having a level of discipline, motivation and the ability to navigate and manage workloads effectively in a remote environment is also vital. Simultaneously, there is a need to deliver efficiently and effectively, and on time – because citizens will be no less demanding (or even more post COVID) when it comes to their expectations for service.

The pandemic has also taught us the need evolve and to embrace change in order to thrive. It has instilled in us a need to adapt to changing circumstances, and this in turn helps us find solutions to problems by putting the user front and centre of everything and thinking differently. We should not underestimate the opportunity this provides us to build a workforce whose founding principles are based on innovating and adapting to the new needs and wants of its customers or citizens (in respect of government services).

The important role that technology plays also highlights the need for a tech-savvy, digital ready future workforce. Robotics and AI are innovating how we live, work and play and employees need to align to that mindset, because this plays a significant role in automation and really enhancing the overall citizen experience. It is not about replacing humans with robots, the workforce of the future needs to be ready to take on the opportunity that technology represents to bring about efficiencies, drive innovations and improve citizens’ experience as they interact with governments and associated services.

Public and private sector working hand in hand

So the talent of the immediate tomorrow will have a direct impact on the delivery of the citizen experience. As governments focus on making efficiencies and cost savings, it is the duty of the private sector to support when it comes to developing the skills of nationals. This in turn supports the growth of the economy and the nationalisation agenda as outlined by the government of the UAE and KSA.

But it’s not just about the pandemic, a focus on nationalisation is very much embedded in the core DNA of our culture at Serco and it is a key component of our strategy. The pandemic has only made it all the more obvious that we need to have a national skillset that is able to deliver to international standards. By doing so, we can provide our future team with the right training and soft skills so that they are moved into leadership and management roles. This is where they can focus on the future and manage the transformation that we are going through, just like the rest of the world.

Already we are knocking at the doors of the biggest regional universities so that we can start our assessments, to recruit and find the brightest talent that we can support on their career journey of tomorrow. To that end, we are already looking forward to welcoming a new cadre of graduates to our team in September. As a multinational organisation, we are committed to ensuring that Emirati and Saudi talent is equipped with robust training programmes delivered to international standards, and that key skills are learnt and underpinned by the right mentorship to enable those to thrive.

Promoting gender diversity

The visions of the leading Middle East nations outline the important role that women are playing when it comes to delivering against their ambitions. Therefore supporting gender diversity is key, and the private sector has an important role to deliver back to governments a fully skilled, ambitious and gender diverse nationalised workforce.

Being prepared for the challenges that our society will face requires knowledge of future skills among the workforce of GCC nationals. Despite the challenges that the regional and global economies will be bracing for in the months ahead, we should not be deterred from our mission. A new generation of nationals is ready to make an impact in the private sector by serving their countries; our priority is to play our role in helping to bring that into fruition. Ultimately, to do this, in a world of automation, robotics and other innovative forms of technology that will transform our society, we must adopt a growth mindset.