The right skills: Partnerships are key to training the next generation of employees

Government agencies and private companies are working together to try to provide young Saudis with the skills that will allow them to work in the Kingdom’s nonoil private sector, which enjoyed growth of 5.5% in 2013, according to Jadwa Investment. In its current five-year plan the government has earmarked a total of SR23.14bn ($6.17bn) for training, an increase of 41.6% on the SR16.34bn ($4.4bn) allocated under the previous plan. There has also been an increased emphasis on working with the private sector to supplement state support for training schemes.

MANAGEMENT: Since 1983, the vocational training sector has been overseen by the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC), which is responsible for curriculum design, regulation of trainers, quality assurance and administration of assessment. However, its role is due to become more focused on regulation, while a new agency, Saudi Skills Standards, has been formed to take charge of standards and accreditation.

Saudi Skills Standards is part of TakaMoL, the government-owned holding company providing services to the labour sector. The company is also developing public-private partnerships (PPPs) with training providers through its other subsidiary, Colleges of Excellence. The idea behind the PPPs is to take advantage of what each partner can offer – the government provides facilities and financing while the private training company brings faculty, management and curricula.

To ensure the programmes meet their objectives, the payment schedule is based on learner outcomes. The government pays an initial portion of each student’s course fees upon enrolment, a second tranche when the student graduates, a third when the student passes an independent test run by the Saudi Skills Standards agency and a final small instalment once the student has secured employment. The first 10 Colleges of Excellence contracts were granted in 2013 and were won by companies from the US, Canada and Europe. Colleges of Excellence represents a significant scaling up of vocational provision. Some 110,000 students a year have been trained under the previous TVTC system, whereas the Colleges of Excellence initiative is expected to train up to 300,000 annually by 2020.

ALGONQUIN: Canada’s Algonquin College is one of the programme’s contracted training providers and it began its first classes on an all-male campus in Jazan in September 2013. Algonquin specialises in applied learning and will provide a foundation year in English language before offering specialist technical courses equipping trainees to work as marketers, bookkeepers, electricians, car mechanics, bus and truck mechanics, heating, refrigeration and air conditioning fitters, or draftsmen. At full capacity of 2000 students, the Algonquin Jazan College of Excellence will generate revenues of SR85m ($22.7m) annually, which suggests a training cost of SR42,000 ($11,197) per student.

In February 2014 Matthew Hancock, the UK minister of state for skills and enterprise, visited Saudi Arabia to witness the UK National College for Teaching and Leadership sign a SR87m ($23.2m) contract with Tatweer Education Holding Company.

IT SKILLS: The need to develop practical, workplace skills can also hold back graduates, an issue that is being tackled by the Prince Salman Education for Employment Programme. Prince Salman University, which is a privately owned non-profit institution, has begun offering a range of IT courses for unemployed graduates, who can opt to take an internationally recognised and examined course based around a specific IT platform. Men can choose from Cisco, Huawei, Juniper, Microsoft or SAP, while women are offered courses from Microsoft, Oracle or SAP. Some 30 students have enrolled on each track and have all completed a compulsory foundation course in English before moving on to the IT part of their training. “They have embraced this training enthusiastically and are keen to progress as far as they can, and seem excited by the opportunities that gaining the certificates will afford them,” Andrew Conder, project manager for the Prince Salman Education for Employment Programme, told OBG.

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The Report: Saudi Arabia 2014

Education & Training chapter from The Report: Saudi Arabia 2014

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