EXCELLENCE IN TRAINING

Saudi Arabia 2017 | EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ahmad Fahad Al Fahaid, Governor of the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC), on new partnerships, models, and goals for vocational training in Saudi Arabia.

 Ahmad Fahad Al Fahaid
BIOGRAPHY
Ahmad Fahad Al Fahaid was appointed Governor of TVTC in 2015. He started his distinguished career at the Technical College of Riyadh as an Assistant Professor in mechanical engineering in 2001 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2006. Between 2003 and 2009, he assumed the position of Director General for International Cooperation at TVTC. In 2009, he became the Director General for the Construction and Maintenance Directorate at TVTC then Assistant Director General at the Saudi Social Development Bank in 2012. After that, he served as Deputy Minister for International Labor Affairs at the Ministry of Labor from 2012-2015.

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. 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 operate the college, prepare the students for the labor market, and help them to become employed. We pay the operators based on performance, 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 in partnership with operators from the UK, Canada, the US, Australia, and New Zealand. From the US we have Laureate, which operates many colleges in different cities. We are still expanding in this operation 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, a very big company here. We have a strategic partnership institute with them whereby the company interviews students—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. We currently have 24 colleges such as this one with companies like SABIC and Aramco. With the Saudi Arabian Railway (SAR), we have a college called SRB, and, in this institute, all students are already employed by SAR. Under Saudi Vision 2030 and the current National Transformation Program, we will increase the number of strategic partnership institutes to 35.

What are your key goals for 2017?

We need to expand and attract students. We need to compete to provide 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 developed specialized automotive institutes. 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 educators, as technology is changing very fast. Mobile technology, for example, is changing fast and we have worked hard to keep pace. Our collaboration with Huawei and Samsung is evidence that we are collaborating with the key players. We will always look to collaborate with other entities, both in the public and private sectors. More than 50% of TVTC's Board of Directors is from the private sector. Although we are public sector, we operate as a business, as this is the only way we can ensure that we exceed the minimum requirements of the labor market.