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Success Story

Saudi Aramco plans to foster a skilled and diverse workforce

A success story from HR 4.0: Shaping People Strategies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Future of Work|Inclusion and Diversity|Talent|Total Rewards|Integrated Wellbeing
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June 11, 2020

Saudi Aramco is deploying several initiatives to ensure a pipeline of skilled and diverse workers, demonstrating imperatives 2, 4 and 6 from HR 4.0.

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About HR 4.0

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is blurring lines between people and technology – changing the ways people work and businesses produce value. A white paper, published by the World Economic Forum, presents, HR 4.0, a framework for shaping people strategies in the 4IR, and examines the role of the HR function as a key driver in defining how work is done and how the workforce evolves.

Saudi Aramco, a national petroleum and natural gas company located in Saudi Arabia, has always recognized training, reskilling and upskilling as part of a unified ecosystem to promote national employment, close the skills gap and, most importantly, create sustainability for business operations and expansion. They have implemented various initiatives to prepare for the future of work, not only ensuring their workforce is reskilled and upskilled due to job displacement, but also to promote an inclusive workforce within the organization and nationally. It is predicted that as much as 30% of manual work will be displaced due to automation. This disruption would disproportionately affect the operators, inspectors and rig workers that are a majority of the company’s workforce. Additionally, the industry has been challenged by a lack of experienced and qualified female talent resulting in a smaller talent pool for technical roles, which then has an impact on the number of women in upper management, as technical roles are often prerequisites for career advancement. Saudi Aramco deploys several initiatives to ensure a pipeline of skilled and diverse workers.

To create an equal playing field across the company, technical and vocational workers must have the same level of digital fluency as their peers.

Creating digital fluency for all

As automation is increasingly deployed in the oil and gas industry, it is predicted that as much as 30% of manual labour will be displaced. In Saudi Aramco, this disruption would disproportionately affect the operators, inspectors and rig workers that are the majority of the company’s workforce. Although Saudi Aramco has had a robust and highly-specialized industrial training programme for decades, the launch of their Digital Transformation Strategy caused senior leadership to re-evaluate the curriculum to ensure that it was preparing apprentices for the future of work. To create an equal playing field across the company, technical and vocational workers must have the same level of digital fluency as their peers. Upskilling this young and massive population was a critical step forward in democratizing work and providing potential opportunities for all employees. The curriculum itself was transformed using a Digital Capability Framework to combine multiple elements of digital technology including augmented reality, virtual reality, gamification, and a digital academy with traditional classroom learning to provide apprentices with the knowledge and skills to use the latest technological advancements, and the capability to evaluate their relevance in the workplace.

Saudi Aramco created a cross-functional team to take a holistic view on the future of work.

Preparing for the future of work

Since a significant portion of the workforce are industrial employees whose current skills and positions will likely be affected by automation, Saudi Aramco created a cross-functional team to take a holistic view on the future of work. This included senior leadership across major stakeholder groups including IT, HR and Engineering. Their mission was to have a comprehensive plan to mitigate the internal impact of automation and other technologies, with a focus on reskilling and upskilling of affected jobs. Both quantitative and qualitative aspects were considered to inform decision-making at all levels of the organization, such as training, workforce planning and leadership development. They conducted a mapping of all current and future jobs to understand which jobs will require upskilling and reskilling, the implied timeframe, the anticipated percentage of automation or augmentation by technology, and current and future skills demanded. This holistic approach to workforce development allowed Saudi Aramco to move quickly to adjust their training curriculum, focus new degree hires on emerging technologies and upskill current employees in line with business demand. During a joint session held in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in May 2019, Saudi Aramco hosted more than 20 fellow oil and gas companies, sector experts and academics to share lessons learned and best practices in managing the future of work as co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s “Future of Work in Oil and Gas” Taskforce, and create an industry-led roadmap.

Leading National Academy (LNA) is paving the way to build inclusion into even the most male-dominated industrial sectors.

Closing the skills gap for women to provide greater opportunities to participate in the workforce

Saudi Aramco is a major employer in Saudi Arabia, and as part of the country’s ‘Vision 2030’, which aims to rapidly increase female participation in the workforce, the organization needed to ramp up the number of skilled female talent. Saudi Aramco created the Leading National Academy (LNA) as a female-focused vocational academy representing a public-private partnership. It is a new institute established under the National Specialized Partnership Academies (NSPAs), which contributes to the sustainable development of the Kingdom through many partnerships with vocational training organizations. While their focus is primarily on industrial and technical skills, it also ensures that female trainees receive soft skills training including speaking with impact, emotional intelligence and business acumen. Most recently, the NSPA has 30 partnership academies focused on future jobs. Since inception, NSPAs have graduated nearly 19,000 trainees and have over 5,000 active learners in 18 specialized institutions. Together with the Ministry of Labour and Social Development, the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC), and Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF), LNA provides curricula in supply chain, electrical, laboratory science, HSE officer and instrument/mechanical technician. As the first female-focused industrial training centre in Saudi Arabia, LNA is paving the way to build inclusion into even the most male-dominated industrial sectors. By introducing more qualified Saudi women into technical trades, this programme is creating talent flows to meet not only the demand of Saudi Aramco, but of the Kingdom’s energy ecosystem.


This success story was published by the World Economic Forum in December 2019 and has been reproduced with permission.

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