M. Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Arab News Staff
Publication Date: 
Wed, 2004-02-25 03:00

RIYADH, 20 February 2004 — The General Organization for Technical Education and Vocational Training (GOTEVOT) has joined forces with BAE Systems to overhaul development of occupational skills in support of the government’s Saudization drive.

BAE System will contribute SR20 million to the project, it announced on Monday.

“This is an initiative of the Saudi government, an initiative which we applaud,” said Mike Wallace, director of economic development at BAE Systems.

Wallace said the “National Occupational Skill Standards and Curriculum Development Project” was a key platform for workplace reform in Saudi Arabia.

The aim of the project is to improve training and qualifications for skilled trades and to bring them in line with the actual needs of the labor market.

This will be achieved by involving the private sector in setting the standards and defining training requirements, with the aim of significantly increasing job opportunities for Saudi graduates.

The project, already in its second phase, will be managed by GOTEVOT in partnership with BAE Systems.

BAE Systems provides administrative assistance to GOTEVOT and access to international resources as well as funding. It gave SR11 million to the first phase.

In addition to being responsible for the vocational training of 64,000 students, GOTEVOT will be able to increase its capacity by an additional 10,400 students a year.

According to Wallace, the project targets the completion of some 125 national occupational skill standards; it also wants to develop 200 training packages for colleges of technology, 400 for secondary technical institutes and 200 for vocational training centers. GOTEVOT will also develop a national occupational licensing system.

The government has also called on GOTEVOT to train young Saudis for the travel business, which is next up for full Saudization.

The Ministry of Labor had instructed all travel agents to Saudize 40 percent of their staff by Feb. 11. A ministry circular urged businesses to employ at least one Saudi administrative officer in their agencies.

Meanwhile, travel agencies in Batha, Hara, Atoigah, Suwaidi and Badiyah were shut last week and travel agency staff were outside the closed offices, directing customers to airline offices to get their tickets directly from them.

“The travel agencies that were closed on Monday were unable to employ at least one Saudi staff member,” a travel agent told Arab News on condition of anonymity. Airlines said they were unable to contact any of the travel agents in Batha yesterday. Travel agencies have told their staff they hope to resume work once they have hired Saudi staff.

The Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry and leading travel agencies in the city have regular training programs for Saudi staff, but many of its trainees have yet to land a job in the industry. The government hopes that GOTEVOT will be able to coordinate training efforts more effectively.

— Additional input from Mohammed Rasooldeen

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