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Reflections from the Human Capability Initiative, Saudi Arabia

19 Mar 2024
Terry Lees, International Principal Consultant

The Human Capability Initiative (HCI), hosted in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia brought together experts, educators, thought leaders and government ministers to explore how we can equip, enable and empower our greatest asset, our people, to contribute towards the economic, social and cultural future of our rapidly changing world.

The world of work continues to evolve at an exponential rate. It is estimated that over 40% of all global job roles will be disrupted in the next 5 years, as technology transforms the world around us. The HCI served as a fantastic platform to firstly demonstrate the Kingdoms vision to develop their own human capability, but also to create a dialogue for us to navigate this continuous change.

Participants were invited to do just that, participate, explore and debate. We heard of the plans to continue to transform the local economy from an oil dependant state to a global tourist destination. An ambition that supports key objectives with a palpable desire to increase participation for women, improve employment opportunities for disadvantaged groups and support the ever-expanding youth and older populations.

These are of course global challenges that are beyond boundaries. Challenges that are further compounded as our workplaces are now made up of five generations of people, a complex cocktail of purpose and approach, but equally a fantastic opportunity to harness the cognitive diversity that this brings. An opportunity that we must seize, developing a deeper understanding of our workforce to provide the right environment for all of us to thrive individually and grow together.

Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman speaking to the audience at the HCI conference in Riyadh – Source:

Throughout the immersive schedule of keynotes, dialogues and masterclasses, there was a constant reference to the pivotal role that education will play in facing into these challenges. More specifically, how our ability to create lifelong learning opportunities can have the greatest positive impact and catalysing effect on our people.

From technology and AI through to climate change, the green economy and global population trends, these are all factors that will undoubtedly shape our future. In a world that is distinctly challenging, many communities continue to face conflict and displacement. With over 70million refugees worldwide, how can we collectively approach these often daunting challenges to create a world where no one is left behind?

Whilst none of us left Riyadh with all, or indeed many of the answers, we did leave with a renewed sense that a key part of our solution lies in how we can maximise the technological revolution upon us, to continue to transform the education, skills and international development arenas.

But there is a bigger role that we can all play as global citizens, as we reboot, reskill and in many cases, relearn, adapting our organisations, our sectors and our industries for the roles of the future. As most of these roles are yet to be realised, our focus needs to be on the development of our skills. As industry often highlights, there is a critical need for us to develop our core or soft skills as these new roles materialise. We can all add empathy, self-efficacy and emotional intelligence to the need for greater creativity, critical thinking and data analytics.

It is these skills and others, that will enable us to build the brighter future that was envisioned at the HCI, empowering an equitable and inclusive approach to equip future generations. There is no doubting the tipping point that we have reached, we must utilise our collective skill, to collaborate, challenge and learn together, if we are to realise our full potential and unlock the human capability and capacity in all of us.

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