Kingdom’s training market grows 6 percent annually to SR 10 billion

Updated 04 October 2012

Kingdom’s training market grows 6 percent annually to SR 10 billion

The training market sector has soared to an astonishing SR 10 billion, with a growth rate of six percent annually, said a recent report which aimed at relating the importance of the training sector to young Saudis preparing for jobs in the local market.
The report pointed out that open competition in the field of training programs contributed to a positive environment that reflected positively on trainees, besides equipping those qualified for the job market. 
The report prepared by the General Organization for Technical Education & Vocational Training (GOTEVOT) also disclosed that the number of licensed civil institutes in Saudi Arabia had reached 936. It underlined the importance of these institutions in the light of the ambitious plans being pursued by them.
In this context, Omar bin Mohammed Basoudan, CEO of Cambridge International Certificate of Information Technology in the Kingdom, has impressed upon stakeholders the importance of working together to organize the training market in the Kingdom while strengthening the role of institutes and training centers.
Basoudan called for training programs to be upgraded to meet global standards based on the most important practical skills needed by the employment market, along with conforming to the criteria of recognized international certificates. He added that the training sector represents the cornerstone of providing qualified national cadres to suit the needs of the labor market.
On his part, Vice President for Business Sector at Al-Khaleej Company for Training, Hatem Al-Duraiaan, said the Cambridge programs had several advantages besides bilingual training leading to an international certificate. The bilingual instruction helps the trainees pass their tests and qualify them for the job market.
He underscored the distinguished role played by the Cambridge International Certificate in IT Skills which enabled individuals to acquire the best skills and practice out in the field when necessary, as well as equipping them with computer skills and qualifying trainees for entry into specialist areas in Computer Science. 
Al-Duraiaan said: “Trainees will get certified from Cambridge University bearing the logo of the university as well as the slogan ‘Corporation Technical and Vocational Training’ which was recognized by many governments and international institutions.”
According to Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), 70 percent of Saudi trainees are bellow the age of 30, while 46 percent are under the age of 20. 
The same report said that Saudi Arabia was ranked seventh in the world in terms of educational spending. 
The Kingdom has also embarked recently on the implementation of a comprehensive reforms program of its educational system at a cost of SR 3.1 billion.
In a related development, a study prepared by the Department of Information & Research at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce & Industry had called on investors to set up training centers in areas with high population, such as to the south and west of Riyadh, since the majority of the training centers were concentrated in the north, center and east.
The study advised training centers to contribute to the training awareness campaign for the community by intensifying their advertising campaigns in the interest of job seekers.
The study also underlined the need to diversify the specializations offered by training facilities for individuals and focus on specialties needed by the labor market, which serves the area of employment.
It noted that improvements in the standards and qualities of training curricula and programs tailored to the needs of the market would ensure the success of the program in this regard.


Saudi pursuit of ‘green Kingdom’ goal gets a boost

Updated 18 November 2019

Saudi pursuit of ‘green Kingdom’ goal gets a boost

  • Agreement between agriculture ministry and Dubai's ICBA aimed at conserving natural resources
  • Kingdom's biosaline agriculture research and systems stands to benefit from ICBA's expertise

DUBAI: Agricultural development and environmental sustainability in Saudi Arabia will receive a boost in the coming years, thanks to a new agreement between the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) in Dubai and the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.

The agreement aims to enable Saudi Arabia to achieve its goal of preservation and sustainable management of its natural resources by raising the quality of biosaline agriculture research and systems.

The ministry says that the agreement will make use of the ICBA’s expertise in capacity development besides agricultural and environmental research, especially in the fields of vegetation development, combating desertification and climate change adaptation.

“It also includes training programs for Saudi technicians and farmers,” the ministry said. “In addition, it will localize, implement and develop biosaline agriculture research and production systems for both crops and forestation, which contributes to environmental and agricultural integration.”

Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, the ICBA’s director general, told Arab News: “The agreement had been in the making for about two years. That was when we were approached by the Saudi government.”

Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, ICBA Director General, at the center's Quinoa fields in Dubai. (Supplied photo)

She said: “We put forward a proposal to demonstrate how the ICBA can help the Saudi government to implement its Green Kingdom Initiative, through which the ministry is trying to restore green coverage in the country and revive old conservation practices.”

Geographical features and climatic conditions very greatly from one part of the country to the other.

In the past, experimentation with such crops as potatoes, wheat and alfalfa proved detrimental to the Kingdom’s environment and natural resources due to faster rates of groundwater withdrawal.

“The ministry wanted to put a halt to over-abstraction of water, so they went through different policies,” Elouafi said.

“They made sure, for example, that farmers stopped producing wheat because about 2,400 liters of water is consumed to produce 1 kg of wheat. It was a huge amount,” she added.

“The new strategy is to find more appropriate crops for the farming community, which is quite large in the Kingdom.”

Saudi Arabia has been trying to grow its own food on a large scale since the 1980s. 

The objective of the Green Kingdom Initiative is to reduce the agricultural sector’s water demand by finding alternatives to thirsty crops.

The agreement will require the ICBA, over the next five years, to build for Saudi Arabia a new biosaline agriculture sector. 

As part of this shift, cultivation of a number of crops, notably quinoa, pearl millet and sorghum, will be piloted in high-salinity regions and then scaled up.

“The crops did very well in the UAE,” Elouafi said. “We’re looking at Sabkha regions, which have very high salinity and wetlands, and are on the ministry’s environmental agenda.”

Another objective is “smart” agriculture, which will involve raising water productivity, controlling irrigation water consumption and changing farming behavior.

Elouafi said that getting farmers in the Kingdom to stop cultivating wheat took some time as they had become accustomed to heavy government subsidies. In 2015, wheat production was phased out, followed by potatoes a year later and then alfalfa. 

“Farmers were provided everything to the point where they got used to a very good income and a very easy system,” she said.

“Now farmers are being asked to start producing something else, but the income won’t be the same, so it’s very important at this stage that the ministry has a plan and it’s fully understood.”

The agreement envisages preparation of proposals for ministry projects that involve plant production, drought monitoring, development of promising local crop and forestation varieties, and conservation of plant genetic resources.

“We’re also discussing capacity building because the ministry is big and has many entities. Because Saudi Arabia is a large country and has the capacity to meet some of its food requirements internally, what’s required is a better understanding of the country’s natural capabilities in terms of production of the crops it needs, like certain cereals,” Elouafi said.

“The way the authorities are going about it right now is more organized and more holistic. They’re trying to plan it properly.”

Elouafi said that having a better understanding of Saudi Arabia’s water constraints and managing the precious resource is essential.

 

Although almost the entire country is arid, there is rainfall in the north and along the mountain range to the west, especially in the far southwest, which receives monsoon rains in summer.

 

Sporadic rain may also occur elsewhere. Sometimes it is very heavy, causing serious flooding, including in Riyadh.

“They (the government) are very interested in drought management systems. The Kingdom has a long history of agriculture,” Elouafi said.

“It has large quantities of water in terms of rainfall, and certain regions have mountainous conditions, which are conducive to agriculture.”

Clearly, preservation of water resources is a priority for the Saudi government. But no less urgent is the task of conversion of green waste to improve soil quality, increase soil productivity and water retention, and reduce demand for irrigation.

The Kingdom is one of at least three Gulf Cooperation Council countries that are taking steps to develop a regulatory framework for the recycling of waste into compost.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman are respectively aiming to recycle 85 percent, 75 percent and 60 percent of their municipal solid waste over the next decade, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) entitled “Global Food Trends to 2030.”

Saudi Arabia and the UAE rank in the bottom quartile of the 34 countries covered by the EIU’s Food Sustainability Index, with low scores for nutrition and food loss and waste. 

The answer, according to many farmers, policymakers and food-industry experts, is a shift toward more sustainable management of each country’s natural resources.