Panel discussion on the prospects of vocational training in the Sultanate of Oman

As part of an integrated approach to expand its educational activities, Oman Educational Services (OES) has ventured with the German BFW, Berufsförderungswerk Kerpen (BFW NRW) to introduce an Apprenticeship Technical Training in Oman.

OES is the owner company of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech), the Finland-Oman School (FOS), the History of Science Centre (HSC), the Training and Smart Solutions Centre (TSSC), among others.

The Apprenticeship Technical Training in Oman will builds on certain aspects of the German Vocational Technical Training and will cater for young Omanis who would choose to follow a technical vocational path.

This project was presented during a workshop organised by OES on Tuesday 22 May at Grand Hyatt Muscat, in the presence of the German Ambassador to Oman, H.E. Mr. Thomas Schneider and representatives from governmental and private organizations. During the workshop, invited stakeholders discussed the opportunities and the challenges relating to the implementation of the Apprenticeship Technical Training in Oman.

H.E. Mr. Thomas Schneider, German Ambassador to Oman, pointed in his speech that “the Apprenticeship Technical Trainings are widely embedded in the German education system and labour market, where the training institutes and the private sector collaborate on providing vocational training solutions to school leavers and on-the-job employees to upgrade their skills”.

The first edition of the Apprenticeship Technical Training will be launched in August, with a focus on IT skills. It is targeted at young Omani school leavers, University and College drop outs, aspiring to build up a technical career in IT required for the development of various sectors.

Dr. Julio Saavedra, the Keynote Speaker from TTU noted that the focus on IT trainings is a pre-requisite for Oman to catch up with the 4th Industrial Revolution. He explained that “4IR is based on a confluence of technologies maturing at the same time”. Technologies are becoming entrenched in our society, through robotics, artificial intelligence, automation, augmented and virtual reality, 3D printing, Internet of Things, etc. Julio Saavedra concluded that “4IR requires a spectrum of technical IT skills which can only be developed through hands-on practical training in an operational environment”.  

The Apprenticeship Technical Training in IT, as devised in the German context, offers apprentices a combination of structured classroom training with job familiarization allowing them to practice the technical and soft skills in a real life setting. Mr. Björn Müller, Manager in BFW NRW advanced: “this approach can be replicated in the context of Oman too, with the help of the private sector”.

The Apprenticeship Technical Training in Oman by OES-BFW is envisaged to be structured over 3 years. The training will offer apprentices classroom learning alternated with weekly scheduled time in host companies. Thus, preparing apprentices to become autonomous IT technicians by the end of the training.

The success of the project will rely on the commitment of the private sector and the host companies that would choose to tie up with an apprentice during the duration of the training. Apprentices should be selected by host companies based on their future recruitment needs and plans to contribute in Omaninzation and ICV development.

“The success of such initiative requires a long-term relationship between the apprentices and enterprises” highlighted Heiderose Moose, Manager of Vocational Training in TSSC.

During the workshop, a series of challenges were discussed by the invitees. “There is a stigma attached to vocational study, people think of it as the alternative option if you don’t get the right marks to get into university” and “I don’t think young Omani are fully clear on what vocational training entails as the majority expect to work in offices.” Another voice postulated “the education system in Oman has to bridge the divide between academic and vocational study”.

OES and BFW NRW are all set to launch the project which should translate into more versatile IT technicians/specialists with a more all-round set of skills.

A textile block construction by UPAD students

HALBAN Each year, the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) at GUtech aims to give students the opportunity to realize a small building. Last year students built a small tower from prefabricated rammed earthen blocks. “The goal is that they understand the construction in more depth and to see the consequences of their design. This year’s project by 2nd year students began with an investigation of local facades and the materiality of these shells – especially the ubiquitous cement block. The cement block has a mixed relationship with architecture: while practical and inexpensive, it is in most applications rather uninspired and monotonous,” said Wayne Switzer, Lecturer in the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) at GUtech. The students have challenged this idea by designing their own blocks, applying their understanding of form and relief to represent the cement block as a “Textile Block” – a permeable, versatile module worthy of a closer look.

Students were responsible for the entire production and construction process – from making formworks, mixing cement, casting and then mortaring the modules, the students were involved. “This is quite unusual for architecture students in Oman. The process was done on campus in the small workshop beside the GUtech Eco-Haus. The free-standing sculpture that is now on display in front of the department exhibits the variety of forms developed by the students and also functions as a housing for a projector.” Said Wayne Switzer.

Wayne Switzer is a Lecturer in the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design. Wayne brings firsthand knowledge in heading such projects, having led a number of international workshops focused on building with local materials. These workshops, often involving local communities provided him the valuable experience of how to implement innovative ideas through an understanding of local context. He previously held a teaching position at the Swiss Federal Technical Institute (ETH Zürich) where he specialised in contemporary earthen construction.




Shell Oman, together with GUtech and Caledonian College of Engineering signed an ‘Agreement of Commitment’ for the institutions’ participation in next year’s Shell Eco-marathon, one of the worlds’ leading energy efficiency competition. The competition requires engineering students from around the world to design, engineer, and build energy efficient vehicles to be tested during the Eco-marathon, determining whose vehicle can go the distance on limited amounts of fuel. GUtech Professor and Deputy Rector for Academic Affairs, Dr. Armin Eberlein, Caledonian Professor Dr. Ahmed Hassan Al-Bulushi, Shell’s Country Chairman in Oman Chris Breeze, and Shell Oman Marketing Company CEO Mohammed Mahmood Al Balushi all signed the agreement.

Chris Breeze, Shell Country Chairman in Oman said, “We are excited to be signing this agreement with both GUtech, and Caledonian and look forward to their participation in the Shell Eco-marathon. There is a lot of growing talent and innovation in Oman and through their involvement in the Shell Eco-marathon, students are gaining experiences they may not get in the classroom, but more importantly, they are realizing the power they have to make a change and their roles as participants working towards global energy solutions. It is our responsibility as energy leaders, to not only work towards solutions amongst ourselves, but to mentor and inspire our youth, who will inherit the world, and who want to make it better.”

Mohammed Mahmood Al Balushi, CEO of Shell Oman Marketing Company stated, “Shell Eco-marathon provides an opportunity for the new generation of innovative leaders from Oman to engage in a global dialogue on the future of energy transition and sustainable mobility. This initiative is meant to inspire innovative thinking and creativity which are embedded in the way Shell Oman operates.”

Students compete with over 100 students from nearly 20 countries throughout Asia and the Middle East. Participants take their vehicles to the track in the Mileage Challenge to see which vehicle can compete to go the farthest on the least amount of fuel. In preparation of the competition, students are challenged to design, build and test energy-efficient cars, pushing the boundaries of what is technically possible.

“We are privileged to have Shell’s support for GUtech’s participation in the Shell Eco-marathon over the past 5 years. The program has made a significant impact to our teams, allowing us to refine and improve our designs from year to year. As a result, we were the best team from Oman in last year’s Eco-marathon Asia, achieving 3rd place amongst the Diesel engines,” said Dr. Armin Eberlein.

The 2019 Shell Eco-marathon will be GUtech’s 5th consecutive year and Caledonians 3rd year to participate. In 2015 the GUtech team was the first team from Oman to participate in the final competition in Manila, they were fifth in the diesel category. In 2018, GUtech finished taking third place in the prototype diesel category and a commendable 17th place out of 30 in the prototype internal combustion class.


GUtech celebrates staff and students – the Achievements Award Ceremony

HALBAN The GUtech Achievement Awards were celebrated  in the amphitheater of the university on Monday evening. As a guest of honor, Ali Al Habsi, captain of the Oman Football Team and goalkeeper of the Saudi Club Al-Hilal, distributed some awards to GUtech students.

“This year was an exceptional year. Today we are acknowledging the success story of GUtech students and staff members. We are proud of all of you. We wish you a successful future,” said Dr. Hussain Al Salmi, Vice-Rector for Administration and Finances at GUtech. The students were awarded in the following categories: Top study achievers, who had a GPA above 3.5 and those who have been participating in extra-curricular activities, such as student clubs, the Student Council, Student Advisory Council, students volunteering activities as well as those who were involved in various sports competitions. In addition, GUtech staff members who have been working at the university for four or 10 years were awarded as well as those who showed exceptional additional involvement in the university life.

Step2Future – A Successful Transnational Educational Project between RWTH Aachen University and GUtech in Oman

HALBAN The “Step2Future” project between German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) and RWTH Aachen University (Germany) has been launched in 2017 to strengthen the German-Omani relationship on academic, industrial and cultural level. Step2Future is intended to be a transnational educational project and as such it is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

“Since the beginning, we have supported GUtech in the establishment of its structures and processes in alignment to RWTH Aachen University’s standards. Our common approach has allowed both universities to develop their knowledge of higher education in a sound way”, said Professor Dr.-Ing. Robert Schmitt, Director of the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering WZL of RWTH Aachen University and project leader of the Step2Future project. Professor Schmitt has been has been supporting GUtech since its foundation. Since July 2008, he is RWTH Aachen University’s Rector’s Delegate for the cooperation with the Arab Gulf States, in particular GUtech. Together with his project team, he visited GUtech this February for the project’s kick-off. He and his partners from RWTH Aachen University are currently working together at and with GUtech.

The RWTH-GUtech project succeeds the “Step2Go” project (2013-2017) and the “GUtech Quality Management System” project (2007-2012) that were set up to offer GUtech study-programmes aligned with German quality standards as well as to offer continuous education for GUtech academic staff. Therefore, “Step2Go” has been promoting the implementation of new innovative organizational structures as well as new teaching and research methods at GUtech. The Step2Future project is directly connected to the objectives of the previous projects. However, now further improvements regarding the intra- and inter-university communication structures and the public visibility of the German-Omani partnership as well as German engineering values are in focus.

For more detailed information on the project, please visit and get in touch with the project team.

Photo: The Rectorate of GUtech along with Prof. Dr. Robert Schmitt and team members of the Step2Future project during the kick-off meeting in Halban.

Promoting Excellence – The Oman Association for Quality in Higher Education held a workshop at GUtech

HALBAN Under the auspices of H.E. Dr. Abdullah Mohammed Al Sarmi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Higher Education, The Oman Association for Quality in Higher Education conducted a launch event on the international accreditation of higher education institutions at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech). More than 100 experts in the field of accreditation and quality assurance participated in the unique one day workshop.

In recent years, many institutions in the GCC have established a quality center or a quality assurance department. In Oman the Oman Accreditation Authority was founded in 2010. Initially it was named Oman Accreditation Council, founded in 2001. “The international or national accreditation has been creating awareness on quality in higher education. One of the challenges is to balance the tension between accountability and independence of the institution,” said Dr. Narimane Hadj Hamou, Founder and CEO of the Centre for Learning Innovations and Customised Knowledge Solutions (CLICKS) based in the UAE. Dr Narimane gave a talk on Accreditation in the GCC Region: Developments, Challenges and Future Opportunities”. She stressed that it is important to consider the creation of a GCC ‘think tank’ that will work on a common GCC framework to establish joint standards promoting for example student mobility in all GCC countries. “The accreditation is a commitment to quality. It is not a specific task but a continuous quality improvement. The accreditation is important to attract the best students and to find the best faculty members.” Said Dr. Ali Al Badi, Associate Dean for Postgraduate Studies and Research at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU).

In addition, the accreditation encourages and supports ethical behaviour by students, faculty, administrators and professional staff. It enhances a positive work environment. “It promotes a collegiate environment while trying to respond to current and emerging corporate social responsibility issues,” said Dr. Hatem El Masri, Director of Quality Assurance and Accreditation Office at the College of Business, University of Bahrain. Such social responsibility issues include diversity, sustainability development, environmental sustainability and globalization at large. The accreditation also includes aspects regarding intellectual contributions from academics as well as student, academic and professional engagements for example through guest lectures. The AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) is mission-driven, it is based on principles rather than on rules. According to Dr. Hatem the AACSB accreditation is the largest and most widely recognised business accreditation in the world, more than 780 accredited schools worldwide.

The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) supports technical education worldwide. “This accreditation is a proof that a programme has met essential standards that are valid worldwide to produce graduates that are ready to enter the critical fields of applied sciences, computing, engineering and engineering technology” said Dr. Nabil El Kadhi, Vice Chancellor of the University of Buraimi. During the closing session the board members of OAQHE said that further joint meetings and events are planned in the near future.

At GUtech all BEng and BSc study-programmes are accredited by the Oman Accreditation Council and by ACQUIN, an international accreditation agency based in Germany.

Caption: Group photo with HE. Dr. Abdullah Mohammed Al Sarmi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Higher Education (center) and Prof Dr. Armin Eberlein, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs at GUtech (center) along with the board members of The Oman Association for Quality in Higher Education.

© GUtech / Text: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet; Photos: Umaima Al Zadjali




The German Minister of State of the Federal Foreign Office visits GUtech

HALBAN H.E. Niels Annen, the Minister of State of the Federal Foreign Office and member of the German Bundestag and his accompanying delegation has visited the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) today afternoon. They were welcomed by Prof. Dr. Armin Eberlein, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs, Prof. Dr. Michael Jansen, Founding Rector of GUtech and Claudia Schmidt, Representative of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) as well Dr. Manuela Gutberlet (PR Manager). The delegation had a tour around the campus and visited the GUtech Eco-House. During their visit they discussed the German-Omani cooperation in the field of higher education and how to enhance this cooperation.

© Text: GUtech/ Dr. Manuela Gutberlet; Photo: Umaima Al Zadjali

Celebrating Diversity and Talents – An International Day at GUtech

HALBAN An international cultural day was held at GUtech on Tuesday. The event included a ‘Global Village Bazaar’ with games, exhibitions and food from various European, Asian and Latin American. The event was organized by the English Club and the International Student Club. The GUtech English Club held a talent show with music performances in the afternoon. The International Night included songs in various languages and music composed by GUtech students, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi dance performances as well as a karate performance and an international fashion show.

“Universities tend to be the most diverse places,” said Dr. Armin Eberlein, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs at GUtech during his welcome speech. “Inter-cultural intelligence including cross-cultural understanding and the ability to engage with the world at large is becoming more and more important in today’s globalized world” he said. The Vice-Rector added that the curiosity for study-programmes often extends to more curiosity about other cultures and ways of living. Last year 134 GUtech students were sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). They attended workshops, excursions or conducted their Bachelor thesis at German universities. GUtech students come from 23 different countries and 24 different nationalities work at GUtech.

© Text: GUtech / Dr. Manuela Gutberlet; Photo: GUtech/ Aysha Farooq