Bahrain has identified the critical role of the latest technology in boosting economic growth, job creation and human development, espoused in its Economic Vision 2030.
To power this digital future will require us to prioritise ICT training, particularly in advanced technologies that define the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) era.
In a world already struggling with a major ICT skills shortage, the demands of the digital economy will place enormous pressure on universities to produce enough quality talent to thrive in the digital marketplace.
Partnerships between academia, industry, and technology companies are increasingly critical to developing a thriving skills development model.
While numerous university-enterprise collaborations exist, such alliances are fraught with difficulties.
Many enterprises enter into such agreements unenthusiastically, and their objectives fail to align with the talent cultivation goals of universities.
Additionally, the prioritisation of theory over practice continues to weigh on programme success from the university side.
The University of Technology Bahrain (UTB) has defied the odds and established strong links with the industry and the public sector to ensure the alignment of our programmes with market needs.
Our partnership with Huawei is a successful model of seamless integration of professional ICT training concepts with university courses. Rather than one model replacing the other, both theory and practice play a complementary role in getting our students ready for their careers.
The programme began with Huawei training our faculty members on AI, who were then issued professional certificates. The comprehensive HCIA-AI training teaches machine learning and deep learning programmes, allowing graduates to design and develop AI products and solutions and improve through innovation.
A key pillar of Bahrain Vision 2030 is to forge a globally competitive economy, and AI will help turn this vision into reality. Increased productivity comes about much more naturally in a competitive environment, driving economic growth, profitability, and wages.
High and continuously improving productivity will enable businesses to increase their employees' salaries. Industrial AI enables manufacturers to produce higher-quality products at a reduced cost more successfully than ever before.
Combined with cloud computing and big data storage and analysis, AI helps improve efficiency in manufacturing environments, leading to better performance and results.
Beyond UTB, Huawei also has in place other initiatives for talent development under the "Bahrain Drive on Talent" initiative.
The company has signed an MoU with Tamkeen (Labour Fund) to train 3,000 students on ICT. The training will equip the learners with knowledge and hands-on experience on the latest ICT technology as they embark on their careers.
Second is the HAINA Development, through which Huawei's ICT Academy is building an ecosystem of aligned tertiary education institutions to advance ICT training. Many leading Bahraini universities are part of this programme.
Meanwhile, the Seeds for Future Programme remains one of Bahrain's most popular university-enterprise ICT skills development programmes.
Bahrain has been part of the Seeds for Future Programme since 2016, with local students availing of this opportunity to travel to China, where they are exposed first-hand to Huawei's world-leading technologies.
Further, the annual Huawei ICT Competition attracts an enthusiastic response from Bahraini students who have traditionally performed remarkably well in the regional finals.
Huawei has built a talent supply chain covering the entire learning, certification, and employment process by deepening the co-operation mechanism between universities and enterprises, promoting industry development and innovating talent development models based on enterprise requirements.
Huawei helps our universities cultivate ICT talent that meets industry requirements, providing high-quality talent for industry development.
The sum of these initiatives will help Bahrain maintain its technology edge as we march towards a digital future.
By Dr Essam F Alnatsheh,
Head of Informatics Engineering Department,
University Technology of Bahrain