B&E | Manufacturing Skills Gap: U.A.E. Women Lead the Way in Traditionally Male-Dominated Industries
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B&E | Manufacturing Skills Gap: U.A.E. Women Lead the Way in Traditionally Male-Dominated Industries

In the U.A.E., a new generation of highly-skilled manufacturing experts has emerged - and it's women that are leading the way. Many have now entered historically male-dominated industries, such as aero-structure manufacturing, engineering and oil, and gas. And that's because the empowerment of women is high on its agenda. The U.A.E. government is aiming for 50 percent of workforce roles to be held by women.

At Strata Manufacturing - an advanced aerostructure manufacturing facility in Abu Dhabi - 86 percent of the local workforce is women, employed in roles such as working on the production line, to leading teams of engineers. Women at Strata also hold half of the operational leadership positions. Women like Team Leader, Meera Al Shamsi. She says:

"Women should take pride in pursuing the manufacturing industry and have a career, with its growing possibilities to hone one's talents and give back to the country. One of Strata's main highlights has always been the growth of Emirati females. We are currently over half of the leaders and almost half of the supervisors - that allows us to take part in country's vision of diversification and empowerment of women."

It's a sentiment that's echoed by those in charge. Ismail Ali Abdulla, Deputy CEO, Strata Manufacturing PJSC says:  

"Women are encouraged to take part and excel in an industry that's typically male dominated...We are colour blind and gender neutral when it comes to opportunities and career development paths."

Over at fellow Abu Dhabi (and Dubai) company - Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) - it's a similar story. The Process Control Senior Manager at EGA, Shaikha Al Shehhi, wants to encourage women, wherever they are in the world, to enter manufacturing.

"I advise women to be in manufacturing because it's a very interesting sector. It's very dynamically, you can develop yourself and be a new person if you start working in this sector. In this country, they are growing a lot of our women to be a part of lots of organizations and many industries. Our government is looking for 50% of roles to be covered by women because they trust our strength and they think ladies will be driving this country in the future," says Al Shehhi.

In this way, the UAE seems to be ahead of the curve in overcoming traditional stereotypes and encouraging women to enter previously unexpected industries. The rest of the world could learn a lot from Emiratis and take advantage of their largely untapped pool of highly-skilled women as a means of propelling manufacturing into the future. More than that, women could answer to the manufacturing skills gap that's emerging in certain countries across the world, such as the United States.

This debate will be one of the hot topics at GMIS this year - the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit, held in Abu Dhabi at the end of March. Preparations are reaching their final phases. Also on the agenda will be other controversial and thought-provoking manufacturing topics, such as Industry 4.0, robotics, the circular economy and the industrial internet of things.

Content provided by Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit, via Reuters.