To propel the future of an industry, we must invest in and cultivate talent. This talent can come from anywhere on the globe. Oman, a flourishing nation in the Gulf region, is home to a large youth population, with 18- to 29-year-olds accounting for about 46.7% of the total population. It is also home to the SAP Next-Gen Lab at GUtech, the German University of Technology in Oman.

The lab provides a working space built on design-thinking principles to stimulate and encourage innovative thinking, collaboration, and knowledge-sharing in the region and across the Gulf. It is part of a larger program of SAP Next-Gen Lab locations, where SAP partners with leading universities accelerate “innovation with purpose” in classrooms, provide students with the knowledge and skills for a digital future, and spearhead recruiting in their respective areas.

Heiderose Moossen, manager for Vocational Training (Dual System) at the university and long-time Omani resident, has been investing much of her time and effort in developing vocational training and education opportunities for youth. It was energizing to hear from her and some of her students about the origins of the SAP Next-Gen Lab in Oman and how it is making an impact.

Equipping Students with Digital-Ready Skills

Since initially launching as a pilot program, Moossen has successfully trained around 75 students to date, with a 100% passing rate, all achieving the SAP Global Certification. With an SAP Global Certification, individuals can distinguish themselves among the best and become customers’ trusted SAP software experts of choice.

To help prepare students with the right knowledge and practical skills needed to excel in a digital-forward workforce, Moossen ran various lectures based on the SAP course “Integrated Business Processes in SAP S/4HANA” in 2019 and 2020.

The course covers various aspects of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and introduces students to different concepts and processes that are found at a corporate organizational level. It teaches students both business vocabulary and technical terminology, equipping them with skills that will help differentiate them in the workplace. With an SAP certification, the students and graduates can set themselves apart in the job market.

Moossen believes it is necessary to bridge the gap between the education sector and the workplace, which is why she started integrating SAP courses into her work. “Not only do the courses provide students with the knowledge they need to work in the digital future, but it also provides them with the opportunity for critical and analytical thinking – skills that are necessary to be successful in an international marketplace beyond Oman and the Gulf region.”

Michael Smith, a student with a background in tourism and international business explained how beneficial the course was for him before working at a small and midsize enterprise (SME): “It was extremely fascinating to get a sneak peek into the way corporations operate on a day-to-day basis and discover what the future of business will look like. Most importantly, I learned how the various units and departments of a company mesh together in an efficient and streamlined fashion, giving me a comprehensive overview of the entire modern business process.”

Shaikha Al Hinai, a computer science graduate, has been able to expand her experience with SAP by taking other courses and certifications thanks to the knowledge she acquired through this first course.

Preparing Students for the Future

Beyond teaching her students technology and IT skills, Moossen wanted to make sure she set them up for success in the future. Throughout the program and partnership with SAP, she organized events with students and industry experts, providing a forum to discuss the changes taking place across Omani society and the professional sector.

“I think it’s necessary for students to gain exposure to the workplace before actually entering it so they can begin to understand how companies are set up and how processes are run,” Moossen said. “We need to prepare them for what to expect so that when they graduate, they are ready to enter the workforce. We hear too often about graduates who need about a year or so to acclimate to professional work, which isn’t beneficial for the company, student, and the industry overall.”

This out-of-classroom support also extended to study groups which offered coaching and mentorship to students, especially as courses moved to remote, online teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is always important for me to help keep my students’ spirits high, and I always thought about developing the students as humans and making sure they not only understood the content, but also the right values.”

What we have seen in Oman through Moossen and her students is a model for inspiring the future generation of talent through the SAP ecosystem. As the company helps fuel its customers’ paths to becoming intelligent enterprises, it will also continue to cultivate young talent around the world with tailored learning offerings to help fulfill its mission.

Sabine Benz is vice president and head of Outbound Go-to-Market for SAP Knowledge and Education.