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Global Aerospace Summit to probe workforce development challenges

Abu Dhabi gathering to tackle human capital issues, including workforce localisation

1 March, 2016 – Abu Dhabi, UAE: Local and national experts across the aviation, aerospace, defence and space sectors will this month (March) debate in Abu Dhabi the major human capital development challenges, including workforce localisation, when they meet at the Global Aerospace Summit running at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from March 7-8.

In a special strategy session, facilitated by Ahmed Al Safared, CEO of Etihad AIS, the Emiratisation consulting and training company, industry leaders will examine a range of burning issues, including how the sectors can compete for highly skilled workers, particularly engineers.

And across all sectors, experts agree that encouraging national youth into the market place is a key development priority.
H.E Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency, a key speaker at the Summit, plans to use the space industry as an example of a sector facing workforce challenges and one that is constantly looking for the next wave of industry pioneers.

“The UAE Space Agency is heavily committed to improving education on the space sector to try and attract youths to study STEM subjects and go on to become leaders of the UAE’s space efforts. We are dedicated to creating opportunities for UAE nationals within this industry and we are working with education institutions and international partners to improve human capital development.”

Human resources was identified as a priority topic by experts on the Global Aerospace Summit Advisory Board, which helps shape the biennial programme. Among them is the Summit’s host, Mubadala Development Company.

“In line with Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030 we are supporting the development of a globally competitive Emirati workforce,” said Homaid Al Shemmari, Chief Executive Officer, Mubadala Aerospace & Engineering Services. “At Mubadala, we’re partnering with the public sector, universities and leading global aerospace manufacturers in order to drive awareness of STEM programs, enrich academic offerings, and engage students with real-world industrial experience. It’s through these partnerships that we’re able to offer the training and educational opportunities needed for today’s youth to excel and to support the development of an aerospace hub for Abu Dhabi; helping to take the UAE to the next stage of development.”

Emiratisation is a central to the UAE government’s strategy within aviation, aerospace and space. Key players like Etihad Airways, Mubadala and the UAE Space Agency all have dedicated programmes and initiatives to encourage citizens to take advantage of their sector’s emerging opportunities and international companies are looking to share the load.

“Honeywell is committed to the development of home grown talent in countries where we operate around the world. Here in the UAE, we have partnered with the respected Emirates Foundation in support of Think Science, a national programme which aims to inspire UAE nationals to embrace a science-led career. The initiative is designed to provide guidance to participants as they develop, design and build projects in diverse engineering fields that work to solve real-world problems,” said Norm Gilsdorf, president, Honeywell High Growth Regions, Middle East, Russia and Central Asia.

“The partnership highlights Honeywell’s alignment and support of the UAE 2021 Vision to become a global centre of excellence for engineering and advanced technology. By working with the Emirates Foundation to encourage technical skill development at home, we remain dedicated in our support for the advancement of technology industries such as aerospace, not only in the UAE but on a global scale.”

For Samer Halawi, Chief Executive Officer at Thuraya Telecommunications Company, science education will be key to engaging the UAE’s youth. Halawi says the UAE is fertile ground for brilliant young Emirati individuals who excel in their respective fields.

“We want to help foster a new appreciation of the boundless potential of science. That is an exciting prospect, and the principle behind it is very simple. People, companies, the nation itself: all our futures depend upon our ability to harness science to strengthen the economy, secure our homelands, and advance technologically. Science is the fuel, the life blood that accelerates all three of these core pillars, driving the competitiveness of the UAE on the world stage.

“Space technology saves and improves people’s lives. Its impact has already been felt in the fields of communication, navigation, entertainment and security. Yet the best lies ahead, in what is still to come: today’s understanding of science unlocks tomorrow.”
Nick Webb, Managing Partner of Streamline Marketing Group (SMG), which organises the Summit says despite significant local and international investment, human resources remains the key issue facing aerospace sectors.

“The industry has been investing money, time and energy to ensure the availability of a qualified and skilled workforce to sustain its growth; however, different factors are affecting and obstructing the efforts in developing a qualified workforce, such as competition from other industries, educational challenges and a misconception of aerospace as being a “male job”. This problem is further intensified by the development of high technologies, equipment, and systems used in the industry which require highly-skilled and more specialised personnel.

“Summit experts will be looking to explore innovative strategies and processes to overcome the challenge of skilled workforce shortage and knowledge transfer and will discuss whether technology could be a solution to reduce the industry’s reliance on human force.”

Hosted by Mubadala Development Company, the 2016 Summit, the third in the series, is part of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Aviation and Aerospace Week, which is held under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Etihad Airways is the Summit official airline and Abu Dhabi Airports Company is its official event partner.

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