SOARING SCHOOLS

Saudi Arabia 2017 | EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Fahad A. AlTuwaijry, CEO of Colleges of Excellence (CoE), on the company's founding, its value proposition, and its unique aviation college to train technicians and supply the Kingdom's aviation sector.

Fahad A. AlTuwaijry
BIOGRAPHY
As CEO of CoE, Fahad A. AlTuwaijry is responsible for developing and planning technical and vocational training in Saudi Arabia. In 1992, he earned his PhD in cryptography from Bradford University, UK. From 2004 to the present, Al Tuwaijry has been assigned many high positions in private and governmental sectors, which helped him accumulate managerial and leadership skills at the highest level in business and governmental organizations. He is also a member of different associations and boards such as Saudi Computer Association, Saudi Council of Engineers, and the Advisory Board with Gartner’s Operating Committee at GCC.

What is the idea behind the CoE, and how was it established?

The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) established CoE, a limited liability company, in 2013, for the purpose of expanding and improving the quality of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in Saudi Arabia. CoE operates through three distinct models: International Technical Colleges (ITCs), Strategic Partnerships (SPs), and the Capability Building Contract (CBC) program. Recently, a fourth model was introduced, namely customized training for employment. ITCs are operated by international training providers, ensuring high quality of technical and vocational training and preparing Saudi Arabia's youth for the labor market. CoE currently oversees the operation of 31 ITCs, including 14 male colleges and 17 female colleges. SPs are highly specialized training institutes established in partnership with both the Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF) and the private sector. All SP trainees are enrolled in training programs by signing an employment contract with a specific employer. Thus, trainees are employed from day one of their training and are guaranteed employment upon successful graduation. HRDF supports employers by funding a portion of the cost. Currently, there are 24 institutes in different sectors and locations across the Kingdom. The CBC program aims to transform current traditional TVTC training units by contracting international training providers to work alongside the existing units and enhance their performance.

How does the CoE differentiate itself in the TVET system in the Kingdom?

What differentiates our programs can be directly attributed to the way we conduct our business. We maintain high quality standards throughout all stages of the training process. This includes training methods and curricula, administration policies, and third party quality assurance, such as Saudi Skills Standards (SSS), in addition to other internationally renowned quality assurance and accreditation bodies. Another criterion that differentiates CoE from others is its updated five-year strategy (2016-2020). This strategy has been pioneered by renowned international consultant agencies. The five-year strategy ensures alignment with the vision of 2030 and the NTP of 2020. Additionally, a new branding identity has also been launched simultaneously with the new strategy. The third point is our flexibility in catering to the demand of the national labor market. CoE offers numerous specializations through ITCs, SPs, and customizable training for employment. Durations of training programs can be long or short depending on an employer's labor demand. Also, training units are very well distributed over the Kingdom. In conclusion, international standards and benchmarks, flexibility in specializations and durations, quality assurance, logistics, and strategic alignment with national interests and objectives are the primary components of CoE's uniqueness and value proposition.

Where did the idea come from to set up the aviation college and who are your partners in this college?

Over a decade ago, TVTC started planning to provide the aviation sector with highly skilled technicians. TVTC worked closely and diligently with Boeing, BAE Systems, Airbus, and Saudi Airlines to determine what different types of skills the sector is looking for and determine the number of technicians needed. With relentless efforts and strong determination, CoE, with the support of its primary stakeholder, TVTC, established a state-of-the-art technical college in the area of King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh to provide the Kingdom's aviation sector with highly skilled national technicians in 2013. The development of the curriculum and the entire setup was done in collaboration with several parties. Subsequently, through a robust tendering process, CoE attracted the best international training providers in the field. Australian Aviation College was awarded the contract to operate and maintain the International Aviation Technical College at Riyadh. Many employers have developed partnerships with the college by sponsoring trainees to secure qualified national technicians. The Saudi Royal Air force is the college's largest sponsor. Also other branches of the Ministry of Defense have shown interest in sponsoring trainees.