In the early years the 30-year-old Etisalat Academy's main goal was emiratisation and nationalisation where it offered hundreds of Emirati school leavers the chance to complete programmes that lasted between eight to 16 months. They were trained as technicians and then employed at Etisalat. Those with university qualifications were given specialised training and employed as engineers.
Etisalat Academy General Manager David Brennan says the organisation has in recent years broadened its activities to offer consultancy and human capital development services to telecoms, government agencies, oil and gas companies, financial institutions and organisations across all industries and business sectors.
Since 2000, the academy has been operating at its 1,200,000 square foot training facility at Al Qusais in Dubai with 57 training rooms, sports facilities and dormitories for men and women.
From 2000 to 2006/7, it offered traineeships to Emiratis, but as it grew its strategy was redefined. They continued their internal training, but also started offering courses externally.
"The courses vary — it may be a two-day introductory course on customer service or a two-year programme in chartered accounting," said Brennan.
Courses cover business, IT, telecommunications, finance, English language and leadership among others. Since 2000 the academy has had 121,000 people complete training courses and 10,000 completed courses last year.
Etisalat Academy is also in the business of developing new and in-demand programmes that don't exist anywhere else. Recently the company launched the 4G Mobile Broadband Network in the UAE and the academy is developing a world first certification programme in this technology said Brennan. Courses are also developed together with other organisations.
Supporting those companies that are committed to Emiratisation is where the academy focuses its attention. It is currently working with The National Human Resource Development and Employment Authority (Tanmia) and government ministries to run leadership programmes.
Brennan said Etisalat Academy is based on a business-to-business model and does seek out individual members of the public thought this may change in the near future. "We are increasingly starting to offer public programmes to individuals but don't see ourselves competing in the mass public market. It's not the direction we're going to take."
Outside the UAE
Brennan said Etisalat Academy is a Middle East company that wants to support other countries in and around the region by skilling up local people.
It is currently involved with Afghanistan's nationalisation efforts by putting managers on a succession fast track programme. It is providing training to support that programme with courses in finance, strategy, and technology offered so that managers understand a broad spectrum of the business
The organisation is also working with the Afghan government to provide graduate training. In Tanzania a 3G programme is offered for engineers while in West Africa an English programme is offered for employees of various companies. And in Saudi Arabia courses in customer service and communication for call centres are being run.