Industry Partnerships Key to Talent Development in Jordan | Perspectives

BY Mashhoor Al Refai

Like all countries, Jordan is following a national digitization strategy, to enable faster, safer and more efficient government and private transactions, and to maintain a global competitive advantage.

Recent figures from the US International Trade Association reveal that the Jordanian ICT sector accounts for 3.8% of GDP; with total annual industry revenues exceeding $2.3 billion.

At the recent second Digital Mashreq Forum, hosted by the World Bank Group, Jordanian Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship Ahmad Al Hanandeh said, “Digital transformation is no longer an option. It is a necessity for the prosperity of future generations […] If we are not part of the digital transformation today, we will be left behind.

Despite the current global economic challenges, the ICT sector is considered one of Jordan’s greatest assets, underscored by a 6% growth rate during the pandemic. The Kingdom ranks 49th in the Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI) and offers more than 25 business incubators, accelerators and creation centers.

Innovation is a top priority for the sector, with the government striving to position itself as a regional digital hub. The rapid development of the ICT sector in Jordan translates into some 900 active companies, 98% of which are SMEs, which directly employ around 22,000 people.

Here, we enjoy geopolitical stability, good infrastructure, excellent proximity to major regional markets, a liberalized telecommunications sector and government support. The cornerstones of digital development are in place.

While Jordan benefits from an entrepreneurial culture – backed by numerous supporting initiatives, as well as an attractive talent pool, this pool is not enough to meet the demand of the ICT sector.

What we need is a clear pool of well-trained ICT talent, and we as educators have a responsibility to support national development by providing an adequate talent pool.

Academia can no longer act as a silo. At Princess Sumaya University of Technology (PSUT), we actively seek partnerships with industry to ensure that the talent of our young people is properly nurtured.

Companies such as global ICT provider Huawei have enjoyed a long and successful partnership with PSUT. Together, we strive to develop student research capabilities with the ultimate goal of fostering innovation, building a sustainable digital economy based on renewable knowledge, and bridging the gap between existing curricula and needs. of the labor market.

At the end of 2020, PSUT and Huawei Jordan signed an agreement to establish an academy on campus. The ICT academy aims to enhance students’ knowledge of cutting-edge digital technologies, including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing. The academy will also be used to train administrative staff in security, AI and data storage technologies through specialized training courses and professional exams.

The fruits of these partnership efforts are already evident – for example, a team of PSUT students won first place in an annual, regional Huawei ICT competition, with a system they had developed to ensure that safe health practices were followed inside university buildings during the worst ravages of COVID-19.

The winning security alert system provides a real-time video feed captured by a connected camera to monitor people in a given environment. A violation is recognized when two people fail to maintain the required distance, or one person does not wear a face mask or wears it incorrectly. Upon detection, a notification is sent to a webpage with an image of the violation, for the person responsible to take action. Closed places like universities, schools, factories, and offices can use this real-time solution to ensure people are following social distancing regulations.

The PSUT team proudly won first place in the Huawei Middle East Innovation Competition and successfully published a research paper at the prestigious IEEE conference.

At the academic level, the Department of Data Science at King Hussein School of Computing Sciences has introduced the use of Huawei Atlas 200 DK AI Development Kits, a high-performance AI application development board, to develop systems for various scientific purposes. PSUT has also used a range of Huawei technologies to enable live video streaming of conferences, which has proven particularly useful during the pandemic.

PSUT constantly seeks to help its students hone their practical skills by participating in activities such as the Huawei ICT competition. Through their participation, students gain a better understanding of data communication, security, 5G, cloud computing, data storage and WLAN, for example, all of which are relevant to academic disciplines in the field. ‘university.

Through our industry partnerships, students can access the latest tools, equipment and knowledge. Huawei also offers our students the opportunity to gain real-world work experience and the opportunity for the most capable students to pursue lucrative and satisfying careers with the company.

Working with government and industry will ensure Jordan’s bright digital future, one in which we will all benefit from skilled and highly skilled ICT professionals.