The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has begun a major overhaul of its training and education system, pumping SR11.8 billion ($3.1 billion) into the project, to ensure overall development of its students by increasing their knowledge as well as their physical, professional, psychological and intellectual capabilities. It has identified technical and administrative training as an essential sector of education to support the country's economic and social development. Graduates of training programs in health care, agriculture, teaching and other areas are steadily filling positions at industrial, agricultural and social institutions throughout the country.
The King Abdullah Project for the Development of Public Education has allocated SR4.2 billion ($1.12 billion) to improve the training and educational environment and SR3.58 billion ($954 million) for extra-curricular activities. The training and development of teachers is another thrust of the project and for this purpose SR2.94 billion ($784 million) has been set aside. The Ministry of Education will carry out seven training programs for more than 400,000 teachers, focusing on their specialization, school management, educational supervision, computer science, self-development and improvement of skills to provide modern technological facilities such as interactive boards, displaying devices, communication network and Internet services. Saudi academics and officials are in the process of implementing a 25-year strategy to develop the country’s higher training and education system in tune with the country’s development and job market requirements.
There is now a dynamic market for training in Saudi Arabia. A number of organizations, both government and private, are enhancing existing employee training courses with an emphasis on business, management, technical and language. The market is highly fragmented in an effort to cater to numerous different customer groups, and a number of Saudi-foreign joint ventures have been established to help provide expertise and know-how. The market for distance learning is also expanding rapidly. Saudi’s are gradually replacing foreign workers. The Saudization program, which is implemented by the government, guarantees an increase in training requirements for some time and creates a dire need for training services throughout Saudi Arabia. Saudi job seekers previously aimed only at mid to high level positions. However, the recent recession, high population growth and resultant prospect of unemployment have encouraged a growing trend to accept positions at all levels.
The Saudi Development Plans place great importance on Saudization and the development of the training market, the development of distance learning; and expansion of university. The Government is also actively encouraging the private sector to invest in universities and colleges.
By Maisa Al Tawil