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Building the skillsets

BY: Mohamed Mahlab

About the author: Mohamed Mahlab is the president and CEO of Rowad Modern Engineering

The world economy has witnessed phases of booming success and difficult recessions over the past few years.

As a result, the marketplace has suffered from shortages in jobs and specialised skills. Shrinking labour markets and skilled pools is a serious challenge for major economies, including those in the Middle East. This is a major deterrent as the re­gion aims to reach heights unseen in decades.

During difficult times and recessions, companies hold back most of their direct and indirect investment in em­ployees. Recessions cause slowdowns, which are accompanied by no-new-hire policies, hiring delays and sometimes cancellation of development pro­grammes for all employees.

When hard times are over, recovery is uneven and largely reflects sharp rebounds. It is paramount for organisa­tions to re-evaluate their talent acquisi­tion strategies.

Retaining talent

The question is how to find workers and retain them in the well-known cycle of hiring, training, retraining and retaining talent. Since finding talent in construction is not restricted to experience anymore, the evolution of the market requires more skills such as resilience, management capabilities and the ability to develop.

To start, we must find workers who can be developed and show willingness and eagerness to evolve. Most of all, they need to have the level of education and knowledge that could be outstand­ing in the process of talent-making.

Over the past five years, Rowad Modern Engineering (RME) has been maintaining and updating its talent programme to attract fresh graduates, altering it to the company’s business needs and previous results.

Large-scale talent acquisition cam­paigns through social media and top universities allow us to find the right fit for our team. We first filter the candidates through online tests, followed by a series of CEO-led interviews based on different levels in the company.

We then divide the chosen team into groups to rotate within the company. Engineers in groups of three are led by a mentor from the top management of the company in rotations, even after they graduate from the programme.

We further work on their skills by giving them hands-on experience in different positions and equipping them with early decision-making ca­pabilities by giving them small tasks and internal projects to lead. The main driving force is to create future leaders and a creative generation.

A profound change the pandemic has imposed upon companies has been technological. For the construction and engineering sector, technological changes have affected the way we man­age and execute our projects, as well as make a risky job safer.

The revolution brought about by digitalisation in the construction sector is huge and will greatly impact how companies cope with the changes to thrive and survive.

New generation

At RME, we are trying to inspire the industry to capitalise on the new gener­ation of workers who have been raised in the digital world most of their lives.

We are using business intelligence to generate insights by analysing our his­torical and current data to build future success through accurate numbers.

Industry transformation using tech­nology has helped us in moving from separate digitalised islands to a unified digital body. RME has decided to take the initiative to be the first construction company in Egypt to implement this approach, facing the unknown and keen to learn from this great experience.

An important part of this journey is working with technology providers that can help us maximise our potential. We are significantly investing in our project with Oracle’s Primavera Unifier software to unify all aspects of our company.

One of our main goals is to generate automatic instant reports with exten­sive information instead of manual reports that take time and are prone to errors.

In addition, giving our engineers the top-notch tools in the technology mar­ket has enabled better performances.

The use of such technology will be pivotal in helping us expand both local­ly and internationally. It will enhance our competitiveness and allow our bidding process to be more advanced, make our way of managing and plan­ning projects more efficient and im­prove the effectiveness of internal and external communications.

Our approach to digital transforma­tion is top-down. It is backed by the senior management, who are driving change from within.

To tackle the resistance to change, we at RME are focusing on the re­sult. We are putting our teams in the driver’s seat, to show that the need for change is coming from them and that they need to own their success. Change is inevitable, everyone has to cope with it to sustain and be able to prosper.

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Data Driven Visions: Why Middle East Construction and Engineering Must Digitalise

Delivering digital transformation is not easy however. Aside from the need to invest in new technology and remodel traditional practices, enhanced regulations and governance are required to ensure data quality and security.

But the biggest challenge of all is changing mindsets. From the most senior executives at the biggest clients, to junior employees at the smallest subcontractor, everybody must be ready to do things differently.

It will not be easy. But, inspired by the ambitions of the national visions, there is nowhere in the world that is better placed to deliver transformation.

Download the report to access insights from leading experts representing innovative companies such as Mott MacDonald, WSP, Acciona, PwC, Rowad Modern Engineering, Atkins Acuity (SNC-Lavalin), Metito, Tatweer Building Company, Gensler, Khatib & Alami and The Red Sea Company.

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