Creating more and more jobs for Omani youth is without a doubt a good thing. But simultaneous steps will have to be taken to ensure that education imparted will match the job requirements of the industry which is already in the process of a technological revolution. Clearly, the need of the hour is to equip students with the most modern education so that they are on par with students, graduates or post-graduates in other parts of the world. Needless to say this can only happen with major changes in the entire education system so that the process of acquiring knowledge in educational organisations and institutes is the very best. As it is present trends in the sphere of education indicate that there has to be a radical shift in curricula with the focus on electronics. In order to cope with this shift, educationist must be in a position to anticipate this shift and accordingly equip learners with the task that lies ahead and link it with the labour market. Education is the economy of tomorrow was a vital point highlighted during the recent meeting on education. It dealt with education and the labour market, current and future economic situation in the Sultanate and its impact on education and employment and the best way to align higher education outcomes with needs of employers. While students will have to imbibe the new curricula, it will be imperative to see that teachers’ training is side by side updated and upgraded so that their knowledge delivery is more effective. Periodic monitoring of their skills and progress would also be required to ensure the quality and standard of their work.
Once the Fourth Industrial Revolution takes roots, it would bring with it artificial intelligence, robtotics, virtual reality, automation, big data and 3D printing. According to projected scenarios, in a smart factory, low skills would be taken over by robots, while higher skills to maintain and program robots would be required. Forty seven per cent of all jobs could become redundant due to automated artificial intelligence. Critical thinking, problem solving, people management, coordination and IT, would be among the skills in demand. A life-long learning culture and movement from education for employment to education for employability, from job security to career security was rightly highlighted during the session.
This could also mean a decline in jobs in office and administration, manufacturing, construction and extraction. But there would be a growth in jobs concerning business and finance, management and computer skills. Unless there is innovation in the education system it will be difficult to keep pace with the changing needs of the job market. And one way to achieve this is to bridge the gap between the industry and the academia since progress and development hinges on successful partnership between the two. But even as changes are being anticipated of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the government will have to change its rationale towards education in general. There should a concerted effort to bring about sweeping changes in the education system at the grassroots level. Omanisation fulfils the need to improve the percentage ratio of Omanis at the workplace, but a more responsive education system will make it possible to perfectly fit the jobs on hand.