Pearson chief stresses on vocational courses
Riyadh, May 27, 2014
Tamara Minick-Scokalo, president of growth markets at Pearson, has made a visit to Saudi Arabia where she has met with leading figures from the government, business and education sectors.
During her visit, Minick-Scokalo said she was impressed by the remarkable gains the kingdom has been able to achieve in the field of education over recent years.
“Saudi Arabia has invested heavily in its education system. This ongoing commitment has seen Saudi Arabia accomplish some extraordinary feats in the education arena and has played a key role in the country’s economic diversification – helping reduce its reliance on oil reserves and helping facilitate its long-term goal of becoming a major player in the global marketplace”.
As part of her trip, Minick-Scokalo visited the Colleges of Excellence, Buraydah campus where she met with young Saudis undertaking vocational training in areas such as business and engineering.
Minick-Scokalo believes quality vocational education and training initiatives will be key to the kingdom’s future prosperity, and that the Colleges are an excellent example of how this type of education is providing exciting career prospects to young Saudis.
“Overcoming youth unemployment is not simply a question of creating more jobs for this demographic. Business leaders complain about a lack of suitably trained or qualified staff to fill the employment needs of industry. Part of the problem lies in a failure of education systems to meet employer requirements. This ‘skills gap’ is a complex challenge being faced by Saudi Arabia and other countries across the Arab region.
“Yet despite the strong need for well-trained vocational graduates, some young people are avoiding this career path, because they assume that vocational education leads to less prestigious career options. As Pearson’s recent Learning Curve report shows, (www.thelearningcurve.pearson.com) learners who have engaged in vocational or technical training are being rewarded through well-paid work and rapid career progression, because they have the skills companies need to drive innovation and productivity”.
Pearson is currently operating three of the Kingdom’s new Colleges of Excellence, in Buraydah, Makkah and Madinah, which are offering Saudi students world-class vocational programmes in fields such as electronics, information and communication technology, and business and administration, without having to travel abroad.
The courses have been developed in close consultation with global and Saudi industry leaders, helping to match qualifications with labour market needs, it said.
Pearson and the Economist Intelligence Unit have recently undertaken a far-reaching study collecting education and economic data from 50 countries, including Saudi Arabia, that seeks to give solid evidence for what works in education, and what does not.
A key finding of this Learning Curve project has been just how fundamental providing skills to young learners is in ensuring a country’s long-term economic success. The report concluded that half of the economic growth recorded in developed countries over the last decade has come from improved skills.
Minick-Scokalo added: “Skills are being heralded as the new global currency - making programmes like those offered at the Colleges of Excellence of absolute importance to Saudi Arabia’s future and hopefully marking a new era in education for the country”. - TradeArabia News Service