(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi arabia has embarked on an ambitious program that will empower young saudi men and women with world-class technical and vocational training making them eligible for jobs needed by the saudi employment market
The second wave of the colleges of excellence (coe) will be operational in september this year in 22 different cities across the kingdom in addition to the first wave under which 10 colleges came on stream since last year
As many as 5000 students have already been admitted to these colleges out of 48000 applicants with plans to provide 100 colleges by 2020 to accommodate 450000 by 2023
They include women colleges to provide in vocational training in health care business it and finance hair and beauty parlor fashion design and agriculture.
The subjects were chosen by the government to create employment opportunities specific to the needs of the various provinces
This became apparent in the recent signing of partnership agreements of coe with the best applied vocational providers in the world for setting up another 27 colleges in all technologies and educational developments under technical and vocational training corporation (tvtc) in the presence of saudi human resources development fund (hrdf)
The ambitions plan seeks to facilitate the dramatic transition to a global village coupled with the internationalization of business sectors prompting saudi arabia to boost its competitiveness by building manpower skills required for various professions said tvtc governor ali al-ghafees
This brings the number to 37 colleges — set up within less than two years.
Such an ambitious program is said to be the first of its kind not only in saudi arabia but across the globe according to doug wotherspoon executive director for advancement at the ottawa-based algonquin college one of the signatories
According to the director the kingdom is trying to build a new system using the best in the category available across the world. the groups of college partners are truly the leaders in their respective fields
'this is tremendous success for coe team tvtc and saudi arabia in general. what this country is doing in terms of investment in vocational and applied education is truly historic today across the world" he sai
He said the initiative is not just about saudi arabia and providing opportunities for men and women; it is about helping them find employment. 'and that mixture of education and employment is part of the future" he said
The saudi market will see competitive and best qualified workforce in all fields and sectors within two years said ibrahim al-moaiqel hrdf head.
With these new partnerships coe will further enhance human resources value in saudi arabia
'arming our youths with the proper skills we will ensure that we stand as a country at the right place to attract global industrial and services companies to work in ksa and establish enhanced and productive industries which will lead to higher development and growth." he added
According to saleh al-amro coe's executive director the colleges are in constant process in developing the relevant courses and training programs taking into consideration the needs of the local work markets.
All programs are linked to various companies for providing on-the-job training and subsequent employment to the trainee with the required skills
'during last year coe granted our sons and daughters graduates of high schools the opportunity to train practically with international standards so that they thereafter take the offices they are desirous of. and to sign such new contracts will participate in raising the capacities of the colleges and ensure better distribution throughout the kingdom and also will provide new specializations what will create a work environment that is stronger locally and more competitive globally" he added
The partners involved in this year's program are laureate university (usa); oxford university university of hertfordshire university of sussex lincoln college nascut and pearson corporation alliance (uk); niagara college and algonquin college (canada); giz (germany); sinop university (netherland); mondragon university (spain); aviation university (australia); wintec technology (new zealand)
In september last year coe signed the first wave of 10 colleges that operated in major cities across the country bringing the number to 37 colleges.
This has made saudi arabia the hub of world-class advance technical training in all fields and sectors under the world's finest universities professors and trainers for the benefit of its youth both males and females
According to tvtc head the great challenges and opportunities at the same time is to cover under this program more than 50 percent of the population who are below 24 years of age. those youngsters represent the future of development in the kingdom
In this context he added it is obligatory to provide them with appropriate qualifications that make them eligible for entry into the job market.
'this would also upgrade our competitiveness level globally.
Al-ghafees said the new agreements with 12 global partners providing vocation and hands-on training under which the new waves will provide training in various fields required by saudi market.
The new colleges will open opportunities by providing the best world practices that would reinforce the domestic firms and various sectors where job opportunities are available
Al-ghafees estimated employment opportunities to 800000 within coming five years for those graduates who will receive certificates of excellence recognized both locally and internationally.
They will not only be trained fin the technical field but also in terms of work ethics behavior and hospitality
Students will focus on english language training and basic ict skills in the first year before specializing in vocational areas. saudi arabia is offering high quality practical skills training for an additional 24000 saudi students including 14000 saudi women
Stephen davies chief executive of moulton college said: 'we are best placed with our partners to make a significant difference to young adults in saudi arabia in delivering best in practice technical vocational education and training and excited by the opportunities this expansion provides for our own uk-based staff and students by broadening experiences on a global scale.
Sue parker global skills director for gems education solutions and project director for the oxford partnership said: 'we do not underestimate the challenges but we are really excited to be awarded this opportunity to help young women develop skills and competences that enable them to develop their interests and ultimately participate in employment. the colleges of excellence project shows the commitment of the saudi government to really address youth unemployment and underemployment. it has therefore major spin-offs for other parts of the gcc and beyond to the mena region."