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Dubai faces a shortage of 'green' professionals

by Gerhard Hope on Apr 9, 2009


One Business Bay, being developed by Omniyat Properties.
One Business Bay, being developed by Omniyat Properties.

In Dubai, where ‘green’ building is seen as something of a panacea for the ailing construction industry, due to its focus on quality, efficiency and customer service, the problem of a lack of skilled ‘green’ professionals could become as acute as the rest of the world.

Omniyat Properties, developer of the prestigious One Business Bay, is rolling out a state-of-the-art Building Management System (BMS) that it will use to link up and manage all future projects.

“It is imperative that you find the right people to manage such a system,” argues Omniyat facilities management director Terry John-Baptiste.

“You can spend a lot of money upfront on the technology, but all such good intentions are thwarted if you have the wrong person at the end of the button.

"This is why we have deliberately taken our time with staff recruitment at our main command-and-control centre at One Business Bay. It is a learning curve all through one’s career. Every building is different, and poses a different challenge.”

John-Baptiste says developers in Dubai are now using technology to differentiate their projects in a more competitive business environment. This often relates to energy efficiency and ‘green’ rating, as this helps cut costs and increases a building’s viable lifespan. But it also places a considerable drain on the skills’ pool.

“In the current market, adding value means you have to be very customer-focused. This means a combination of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills subsets,” says John-Baptiste. Staff recruitment is therefore much more difficult, as personnel have to be flexible and multi-talented enough to be able to cope with the demands of the changing construction environment.

However, this is not a problem limited to Dubai. The latest ‘green jobs’ survey from the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) in the US has revealed that 72% of respondents believe there will be a shortage of qualified professionals in the energy efficiency and renewable energy fields in the next five years.

“The need to develop qualified energy professionals servicing the green energy marketplace has never been greater. During the 32-year history of the AEE, I have never seen a more crucial time to implement programmes to create green jobs and train energy professionals to reduce dependence on foreign oil and provide stimulus for the economy,” commented AEE executive director Albert Thumann.



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