Knowledge Transfer: Leading Professional Development Initiatives

David Clifton
Faithful+Gould brings international best practice through professional training and development solutions to our clients in the Middle East.

GCC nations are keen to address the social, economic and political consequences of relying on large expatriate workforces. By implementing labour nationalisation programmes, they aim to improve economic security and sustainability through higher levels of citizen participation.

Issues may include unemployment, under-utilisation of skills and public sector overstaffing. All GCC nations are seeking to reduce dependence on the government as the primary employer, and need to find ways of encouraging meaningful engagement with private sector companies. Investing in the national population's talent, ensuring development of the best professional skills, is therefore a priority for governments in the region, but this presents strategic and operational challenges.

Issues may include unemployment, under-utilisation of skills and public sector overstaffing.

Policymakers and business leaders increasingly recognise that nationalisation quota systems cannot succeed without reforms and improvements to educational systems, as well as effective vocational and post-graduate training. The skills and training gaps apparent in some sectors are now an important concern for governments. The construction industry clearly brings significant employment opportunities as the region reduces its reliance on oil revenue, increasing public and private investment in industrial, tourism and commercial property development and accompanying infrastructure. Both public and private sectors need well-trained people, especially at professional level.

Government entities typically want to embed international best practice into their capital projects and programmes, but their in-house teams may not be fully equipped to do this. External consultancy help can provide the necessary support. Faithful+Gould is leading on commissions and initiatives that address these issues and our clients view this as a powerful added value benefit. Developing project management and programme management skills, together with transferable tools and processes, can transform the in-house workforce.

Government entities typically want to embed international best practice into their capital projects and programmes, but their in-house teams may not be fully equipped to do this.

A great example is our work with Kuwait's Ministry of Public Works (MPW). We are training a team of 180 MPW professionals to manage and operate capital projects, as part of a Project Management Office (PMO) initiative that will bring a culture change and greater efficiency to the Ministry. Around half of MPW's team are women, typically graduates with two to five years' professional experience.

Our team of 45 project managers is working closely with MPW to ensure significant legacy benefits. The resulting PMO capability will enable MPW to exercise ongoing control throughout the project lifecycle, including efficient operation and maintenance of completed projects. We anticipate growing interest in this legacy aspect of PMO services and also in stand-alone training and development guidance. We can lead the planning and implementation of an improved skills base that supports a globally attuned business culture and addresses succession planning.

There is scope for greater industry-wide engagement with schools and higher education providers in the region.

We are also spearheading further strategies for knowledge transfer and skills development. Together with our parent company Atkins, we take a very positive view of our responsibilities towards our own national employees. We ensure that they benefit from effective professional training, introduction to professional accreditation and careers planning advice. Private employers in the region can sometimes be reluctant to make this investment, as many national employees will eventually aspire to government sector careers. However, we see our contribution as also creating the informed future client community, heralding better partnerships for the industry.

There is scope for greater industry-wide engagement with schools and higher education providers in the region. More inward investor companies could offer work experience, internships and graduate recruitment programmes. Our own experience of graduate recruitment in particular has been very positive. We expect to see more inter-organisation secondments in the future, where both client organisations and consultants second their people (and accept inward secondment) to promote wider exposure to best practice. Faithful+Gould leads training and professional development support for private and public sector clients in many countries, typically leaving a learning legacy. Our in-house staff development is also key to our successful delivery of clients' projects.

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