Is it too soon to start talking about a highlight of 2016 in January? Launching a landmark joint venture in Oman to boost the skills of thousands of young Omani engineers has certainly been a dynamic start to the year for the whole team here at EAL.

We jumped at the chance to share our industry expertise and extensive experience of designing qualifications with an overseas audience and to work in partnership with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).  On a world stage the UK is still seen as a leading player in engineering. Being able to take everything we’ve learnt here at home and help to apply it in an economy like Oman’s with aspirations to grow, diversify and invest in its young engineers, is extremely rewarding. 

The main purpose of our initiative is to increase the number of professional registered engineers and technicians across Oman.  We’re setting standards and creating an international benchmark which will mean more people equipped with the specialist engineering skills to deliver for their company, for industry and their economy as a whole. By working together with the IMechE we are offering Oman’s engineers a step by step progression pathway, incorporating continuous professional development, which has credibility in the international market.

Though it was my first visit to Oman, EAL’s Stirling Wood has been working tirelessly over many months to build the foundations for this venture. More recently he has also been working closely with Jo Horton, Head of International Development, from IMechE who brought the weight of a professional engineering institution to the partnership. I was delighted our Chairman John Hillier and the IMechE CEO, Stephen Tetlow, were also there with us. Over the 25 years since his first visit, he has built strong links with key figures in industry and truly understands the difference this partnership will make to the future of engineering in Oman.

My three days in Oman really opened my eyes to the challenge the country faces if it is to create the highly skilled workforce needed to develop vital infrastructure and compete in a global economy.  It is so important for any country to be able to access a talent pool of its own nationals and it was obvious to us, just how much support there is for an initiative that will have such a positive impact on industrial development. 

There was an amazing turnout for the launch event at the British Embassy in Muscat, with national and local businesses represented, as well as the ambassador and the embassy team. During conversations with guests at the launch, and at the many meetings and company visits we packed into our 72 hours in Oman, I picked up on a genuine sense of excitement about what this project will mean for the future.

High quality engineering and technical skills are vital to growth in Oman, as they are in the UK and many other countries across the world.  EAL is an awarding organisation with the expertise and experience to innovate and ensure industry can achieve the right skills to deliver and thrive. I hope this will be the first of many such partnerships and that EAL can continue to respond, to share our knowledge and design solutions that will benefit industry both at home and abroad. 

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