x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Invest in education, CEO of General Electric tells Crown Prince’s majlis

In a lecture this week, guests at Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed's majilis were told to invest in education, focus on Small and Medium Enterprises, and drive towards industrialisation.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (3rd left), applauds after a lecture by Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and chief executive officer of General Electric (not shown) at the Al Bateen palace. Mr Immelt talked about the importance of focusing on education training and SMEs. Ryan Carter / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (3rd left), applauds after a lecture by Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and chief executive officer of General Electric (not shown) at the Al Bateen palace. Mr Immelt talked about the importance of focusing on education training and SMEs. Ryan Carter / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI // Invest in education, focus on small and medium enterprises, and drive towards industrialisation, guests at Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed’s majlis have been told.

Jeffrey Immelt, chief executive of General Electric (GE), advised government officials to focus on manufacturing and industry which would eventually lead to more jobs, during a lecture attended by the Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

“Manufacturing changed dramatically over the past 10 years,” he said.

While a decade ago, large companies relied on cheap labour, things have since changed. Companies were now focused on working faster with leaner lines of communication, focusing on the end customer.

Mr Immelt applauded renewable energy programmes run by Masdar, and said renewable energy was one of things that would have a major impact in the future. He added that unfortunately, those sorts of projects were the first to be marginalised in an economic crisis.

To avoid this, he said companies needed to create environmental programmes rather than just addressing the issues, allowing innovation to lead to economic growth.

One way to do this is to put the focus on education training to bring about more engineers, and to invest in education.

“Focus on SMEs [small and medium enterprises],” he said. “The heart of any economy comes from SMEs. With SMEs, you can create many more jobs. It is the absolute key to economic growth.”

He told guests that Abu Dhabi must have a decisive aviation and manufacturing vision.

“What is different about the UAE is that it has a vision of where it is going, and there are people working on that vision,” he said. “Year after year [you] see execution of the plan here.”

He said this puts the UAE at an “incredible” advantage.

The emirate and GE have a number of joint ventures in financial services, and a training centre. They also have an aviation partnership.

A number of engineering students from UAE federal universities were in attendance at the lecture, part of a series of thought-provoking talks held at the Crown Prince’s majlis, delivered by world-renowned experts.

osalem@thenational.ae