Omani research project seeks employability solutions

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Ray Petersen –
MUSCAT, March 30 –
Dr Victoria Tuzlukova, of the Center for Preparatory Studies, and Dr Saleh al Busaidy, of the College of Education of Sultan Qaboos University, are leading a research team seeking innovative solutions enabling university graduates to maximise their potential within the current employment sector environment.
Samantha Burns, and Galina Bugon complete the investigating team for the research project, with of course, a significant team of Omani research assistants including Saud al Rashdi, Aaliah Ali al Rawahi, and Bushra al Sabei.
Titled, “Skills for 21st Century Training in Higher Education Institutions in Oman,” this research has been supported by The Research Council grant. It seeks to identify the core skills required to make graduate employment a reality for thousands of Omani graduates.
Dr Tuzlukova explained that the study is investigating the current teaching and learning of critical thinking and problem solving skills within the various academic environments of Omani tertiary education, because “the ability to rationalise situations quickly, and make logical and effective decisions within pressurised timeframes, are core employment skills in the current employment market.” She continued, “There appears, currently, to be a mismatch in what the higher education institutions are producing, and what the job market requires, and we must respond quickly to ensure that this trend does not continue”.
Dr Al Busiady made it clear that the study will assist all of the stakeholders involved in higher education delivery, such as the concerned ministries, institutions, educators, researchers, students, and even employers to understand the nature and level of the 21st century employment skills required, and to jointly formulate pathways and processes that will enhance graduate employment prospects for the youth of Oman.
A dedicated website, online virtual courses for teacher training and professional development in the 21st century skills’ teaching and learning, and an extensive bibliographical database on critical thinking and problem solving research and teaching methodologies have been key features of the research to date, and both Dr Tuzlukova and Dr Al Busaidy admit that the task is a daunting one. However, they were positive with respect to the level of cooperation from other higher education institutions, businesses and peripheral private sector educational delivery agents.
“At the end of the day,” Dr Tuzlukova said, “All of us have a common goal, and that is to ensure that when a student leaves university or college, they are appropriately prepared for the challenges of their working lives.”