What does it take to be a technician? Has the youth tapped the potential the sector holds as the Sultanate moves on to diversification of the economy with manufacturing industry promised to be one of the major pillars in the economic diversification?
Technicians are an important section of the workforce, explains Wail al Harrasi, a motivational speaker and entrepreneur, “We need more of those people and we need to upskill and qualify them to take on the jobs that are currently available and filled by non-Omanis as well as take up new emerging jobs.” According to him, there are emerging jobs that the economy needs urgently — in manufacturing, services and other areas. There is a need for technicians ensuring that they are qualified, competent and strong.
“I do not think we have lack of jobs, I think we have wrong distribution of jobs. We have over a million people from outside Oman working here and that means they have found jobs here. If there is something for them indeed there is something for Omanis too,” he said. He believes that Omanis do want to work in those positions; but believes there are other challenges that are inhibiting them from working in the sector.
One of the challenges is the cultural gap.
“There is a cultural gap in many private sector companies. People get frustrated because of the cultural gap between people who are already in the organisation and the newcomers. Expectations are mismatched between the young Omanis and people who are already there. We need an on boarding for both the parties. We need to educate people on cultural diversity and cultural engagement and how to deal with people from other cultures,” Al Harrasi pointed out.
He cited an example of an Omani working in Europe, “I would want to understand how the culture shaped the youth of the land. I would not expect them to be as the youngsters from Oman. I would not expect to motivate them using our teachings. I would need to use their cultural tools. This is how we can build bridges. When we understand this we will stop complaining about the youth.” The problem, the motivational speaker said, is because we have stopped listening.
“We need to start listening to the youth,” he stressed. The fact is more and more youth are going to join the job market. And they are millennials too. Al Harrasi explained that there is a need to stop looking at the behaviours and stop judging. Instead of judging we need to communicate. It is not individuals, instead it is a generation. We need to understand what makes a generation behave in a certain way.
“This particular generation whetherthey live in Oman, India orthe US behavesthe sameway. Sowe need to understand why they do so.The drivers are social conditioning and technological condition is evolving. Even 10 years ago if wewanted to buy something we explored the market place and shops and even took several daysto find what youwant. Todaywhenwe wantsomething we go toAmazon, find and buy in lessthan a minute and get it delivered. Sowhen I was conditioned towait in the past, now I am conditioned to get thingsreally fast. In otherwords, I am not being impatient, instead I am being realistic asit is actually happening,” he noted. While partly the representatives of the job market have to do, there are steps youthwould have to do in orderto bridge the cultural gap said,Al Harrasi.
“Another aspect is in our generation we did not bother much with other people’s opinion about us, but in today’s world whatever I post in twitter or facebook I expect a ‘like’ or a ‘share’. I want to be accepted, appreciated and liked. That is how we are conditioned today. Praise a technician when he does a good job. Give him the like and the share.” Al Harrasi explained that a technician today needs about 48 per cent manual skills which are expected to come down to 35 per cent once automation increases and artificial intelligence takes over.
With the onset of artificial intelligence taking over many jobs, technicians would be a part of the workforce that could retain the jobs, except may be a shift in skills and training. It is not as bleak as some of the studies show. “The way a technician does his job would be completely different. We can see that even today. Let us say 10 years ago you had a problem with your car, what the mechanic would do is open the bonnet.
If you have the same problem today and you take the car to the mechanic, number one he will not open the bonnet and he will not bring a spanner. Instead, he would bring in a computer, plug it into the car and fix the problem using the car’s software and you can go home in 20 minutes. It is the same mechanic, but the way he is working became completely different and we need to upgrade him with ICT skills to do his job.” The future is full of potential for technicians who actually turn out to be the best innovators.