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Dr. Ahmad Fahad Al Fahaid

SAUDI ARABIA - Health & Education

Saudi citizens training for technical and vocational work

Governor, TVTC

Bio

HE Dr Ahmed Bin Fahad Al Fahaid was appointed as the Governor of the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) in December 2015 in accordance with a Royal Decree issued for this purpose. He received his PhD in mechanical engineering in the year 2000 from University of Old Dominion, US, having previously studied at Western Michigan University in the US and King Saud University, KSA. Following his studies, he started his career at the Technical College of Riyadh as an Assistant Professor in Mechanical engineering 2001-2006 before becoming Associate Professor in 2006. He also assumed the position of Director General for International Cooperation at TVTC from November 2003 to April 2009, and was appointed Vice Rector at Knowledge International University in 2007. He was appointed deputy minister for International Labor Affairs at the Ministry of Labor in 2012, and has served in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and the Saudi Council of Engineers. He has chaired the Saudi technical delegation at the annual conferences for the ILO, as well as the delegation for the G20 Employment Group meetings in Russia, Australia, and Turkey.

“The government wants to have an average of 40% graduating from technical and vocational programs.“

Vision 2030 has vocational training as one of its key goals. How does TVTC promote that through partnerships with the private sector?

We are expanding our technical education and skills development in Saudi Arabia at a rapid pace. This requires good teachers and trainers with industrial experience, which we currently have in limited Saudi numbers in the Kingdom. We have created a company called Colleges of Excellence, and through this company we operate newly established colleges through international training providers. All of our international partners meet certain criteria that we have developed. They operate the college, prepare the students for the labor market, and help them to become employed. We pay the operators based on performance, while their costs are covered, which is advantageous for both parties. We pay per student but we also maintain an additional payment for graduation rates and students’ employment. That means the operators must study what the labor market needs. We currently have 33 colleges operating on a similar basis, in partnership with operators from the UK, Canada, US, Australia, and New Zealand. From the US we have Laureate, which operates many colleges in different cities. We are still expanding in this operational model.

Do you partner with specific firms or industries in Saudi Arabia?

We have started strategic partnerships institutes whereby we work closely with local or international companies which work in Saudi Arabia, to prepare customized training for them. One example is Almarai, which is a very big company here. We have a strategic partnership institute with them whereby the company interviews the student — their future employees — and signs a contract with them. Then we start training based on the company’s needs, and the company receives trained staff at the end. This means there will be no waste, as all training of this type starts and ends with employment. This is a win for the students, a win for the company, a win for us, and a win for the broader economy. The students in the partnership school get a monthly allowance higher than they would get at university. We currently have 24 colleges such as this one with companies like SABIC and Aramco. With Saudi Arabian Railway we have a college called SRB, and in this institute all the students are already employed by SAR. Under our Saudi vision 2030 and current National Transformation Program (NTP) we will increase the number of strategic partnership institutes to 35. We have targets every year and hopefully we will not only meet this target but exceed it.

What is your target for annual graduate increases?

Currently we have about 10% of the high school graduates, both male and female, coming to technical and vocational training. The government wants to have an average of 40% graduating from technical and vocational programs. The increase will be huge, not only with the incoming percentage, but also because we give diplomas and then bachelors, so turnover is high and we will need a greater number of students to achieve the 40%. The expansion will be huge, but we will not expand at the expense of quality. We will always focus on quality by ensuring we bring in an international provider to help give the training.

How are you working to retrain government employees to use new technologies?

We have two entities. In the kingdom, we have Institute of Public Administration, which covers all the administration development areas for our public staff. We at TVTC, provide needed technical and vocational skills development through customized training for all public and private sectors in the kingdom. We have a presence in all areas of the government in Saudi Arabia, and train both male and female students, although we still lack the amount of female participation we would like. Our training is demand driven, and we provide our students with offerings not only to attract them,but to help them work later. Some specializations that seem attractive, but have no jobs in the labor market, are not areas we will pursue. We are flexible enough to provide different training for different entities and we have the capabilities to do so. Sometimes we will provide training in the evenings if this fits in with requests. Also, we have created an entity called Riyada Entrepreneurship, with 39 branches across the Kingdom giving entrepreneur training. We now have more than 7,500 entrepreneurs across the country working in that field.

What are your key goals for 2017?

We need to expand and attract students. We need to compete to provide very good, high-quality training so that aviation, railway, and other industries are attracted. Last year we had a more than 30% increase in the number of students we serve, but we are not satisfied with this and want to have more. We are looking for any other opportunities to expand, although this must always be demand driven. One avenue we are pursuing is the fact that Saudi Arabia is now attracting some industrial companies within the auto sector. We have specialized automotive institutes. We have extensive experience with all kinds of models, so have already proposed training to match the auto sector and are ready whenever there is an opportunity. We are similarly ready in many other fields, such as maritime, for example. In addition to expansion, we are also seeking quality and international accreditation, which is very important for our colleges, and we continuously need to retrain our trainers, as technology is changing very fast. If the trainer does not know the technology they will not be able to train students in the most current areas. Mobile technology, for example, is changing fast and we have worked to ensure we maintain very capable trainers. When the government created the policy to make the mobile service only for Saudis, TVTC trained more than 50,000 men and women. We have collaborations with Huawei and Samsung, evidence that we are collaborating with the key players. We will always look to the labor market needs, maintain high quality programs, attract more investors to come to us, and collaborate with other entities whether those are in government — such as labor, job creation, and SME — or also with the private sector, a critical partner in our work. More than 50% of TVTC Board of Directors are from the private sector. Although we are public sector, we operate as this is the only way we can ensure that we exceed the minimum requirements of the labor market.

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