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“We won’t achieve anything without good HR practice” Amal Al Kooheji, COO of the body responsible for Bahrain’s economic future, on why building skills is essential for getting more locals into the private sector INTERVIEW ROBERT JEFFERY PHOTOGRAPHY BADER ALWAZEER



People Management Middle East

he principles of Emiratisation and Saudisation – the officially sponsored schemes to encourage greater private sector penetration of local workers – are well-known and much discussed across the GCC. But while Bahrain may not have a programme that trips off the tongue in quite the same way, the idea of diversifying the economy and finding work for youthful local nationals is every bit as crucial there. One of the smallest of the Gulf economies, Bahrain has long punched above its weight thanks to its sophisticated oil and gas infrastructure. But it was also one of the first countries in the region to begin seriously considering sector diversification, signing a free trade agreement with the US and

focusing on increasing the skills of the local workforce. Central to these efforts over the past decade has been Tamkeen, the government body responsible for directing funding towards businesses, supporting entrepreneurs, overseeing training both for jobseekers and local professionals, and taking an overview of how the national workforce’s capabilities match the country’s ambitions. With the recent axing of the 4 per cent training levy, Tamkeen has taken on an even more visible role as the principle training provider to private companies. And as Amal Al Kooheji, the organisation’s COO, explained at its headquarters in the Sanabis region of Manama, it is determined to focus both on technology and sector-specific interventions in 2016. Tamkeen has created

People Management Middle East: Issue 2  

The CIPD magazine for the Middle East

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