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SAP focuses on training young Arab graduates in Middle East

SAP has a raft of initiatives planned in the Middle East which includes a strategy to equip young people and entrepreneurs with the IT skills required as the region transforms.

Having recently inaugurated its Middle East and North Africa (Mena) headquarters in the heart of Dubai Internet City, and revealing a five-year $200m investment in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), SAP has announced an initiative that will see the business applications supplier offer training to young people in the region.

The scheme, which is part of SAP’s skills development plan for the region, is dedicated to developing partnerships across the public, private and academic sectors to ensure that Arab youths are ready to take on the digital economy challenges of tomorrow.

Tayfun Topkoç, managing director at SAP UAE and Iran, said youth empowerment is a big topic in the UAE and the broader Mena market. Topkoç said SAP’s business is not just about technology and software, but about supporting and enabling local talent and young entrepreneurs.

According to Topkoç, training initiatives will be offered under the SAP Training and Development Institute (TDI). “We are already running several programmes to support youths in the UAE, Mena and globally,” he said.

“We are currently running a Young Professional Programme, which certifies young people and university graduates with the sole purpose of placing them in the workplace – be it at some of our clients, channel partners or [other IT suppliers],” he said.

Topkoç added that another aspect of the training is that the company is working in partnership with many universities to train students across the region. “Middle East millennials are the best-connected and best-educated generation in history,” he said.

Saudi Arabian transformation

Beyond the UAE in Saudi Arabia, a country which is aiming to foster 450,000 new private sector jobs by 2020 through its National Transformation Programme (NTP) 2020, SAP is dedicated to developing partnerships across the public, private and academic sectors to ensure that Saudi youths are trained and equipped to take on the digital economy challenges of tomorrow.

“The SAP TDI is committed to creating sustainable work possibilities for students and young graduates as well as the experienced workforce,” he said.

Topkoç added that SAP offers numerous capacity build initiatives such as the SAP Young Professional Programme that develops certified SAP associate consultants over two to three months of training and SAP Dual Study Programme, a one- to two-year programme combining theoretical studies with certification during academic years. “In addition, we have Design Thinking workshops to facilitate a process to innovation,” he said.

He also said SAP’s global Startup Focus Programme – which helps eligible startups that have product ideas based on big data, predictive or real-time analytics on SAP Hana – is relevant in the Middle East.

“Once validated, startups can pitch to SAP’s ecosystem of more than 345,000 customers worldwide,” he added. “Globally, the Startup Focus Programme has engaged more than 3,750 startups across 59 countries and 22 industries, bringing hundreds of solutions to market.”

Topkoç added that the Middle East is an exciting place to be, with the UAE in particular being a leader in technology innovation.

“If you look at the smart city initiatives, blockchain, driverless cars, Hyperloop and many other projects going on and innovations being launched, it indicates a country that wants to be a global leader when it comes to IT innovation,” he said.

He said beyond the training initiatives that the company is rolling out in Mena, SAP is opening a public cloud datacentre and has signed contracts and the delivery work has started already.

“This is a very important milestone for SAP and a huge commitment because the data will reside in-country and accelerate governments’ transformation journey massively,” he said.

Read more about IT jobs and skills in the Middle East

On the private sector side, Topkoç said: “Together with our partner Accenture, we are accelerating the roll-out of cloud in the region and it’s no longer taking 18 or 24 months for large enterprise transformation projects to be completed.”

“There is massive momentum at the moment and this will give us scalability in the market, where we can go and conduct more investments in the areas that matter, such as we have done with cloud.”

Topkoç said the $200m investment will also see the company open its first SAP Cloud Data Centre in the UAE, which will be located at Khazna Datacentre.

He said the company has also established the Core Innovation Lab and will be extending the centre because it is receiving so many ideas from customers, partners, alliance partners and entrepreneurs.

“We are continuing in our cloud journey and the growth is in triple digits. The UAE is adopting cloud faster than any other country in the Mena market. It’s a big growth country for cloud for SAP and that’s why we keep on investing. I believe, by next year, cloud business will be equal to SAP’s open software business in the UAE,” said Topkoç.

“On the other side, the internet of things is big and smart city initiatives are driving a lot of technologies and there are a lot of startup entrepreneurs that are coming into the market and this is accelerating economic growth.”

He said SAP is working with blockchain and other technologies jointly with startups in the UAE to help the region with digitisation. “Digitisation is a huge trend here in the UAE and the Middle East. We are giving consulting services to our customers in terms of creating roadmaps and how they can succeed,” said Topkoç.

Read more on Information technology (IT) in the Middle East