Saudi Gazette report
The Ministry of Labor recently published a report on its website that touted its latest program: Help 2,666 male and 775 female high school students specialize in technical fields that are in demand by the labor market. Al-Riyadh daily reports on the ministry’s “Learn and Work” pilot program, which hopes to improve the employment prospects of fresh graduates.
The program offers 15 different specializations, which were selected based on the results of research conducted to pinpoint the needs of the labor market. The program will be implemented in cooperation with the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) and the Human Resources Development Fund.
The project aims to provide students with basic skills in technical fields and help them unleash their talents. It was gradually rolled out in 104 training units at colleges and industrial institutes all over the country. So far the following fields have been offered: cell phone maintenance, computer maintenance, home appliance maintenance, food safety and photography. For female students, fashion design and hairdressing are additional options.
Students enrolled in the program will be given, upon completion, priority to enroll in technology colleges and universities so they can complete their undergraduate studies in their respective fields of choice.
According to the ministry, 33 percent of male students showed interest in electric appliances while 27 percent of female students were drawn to computer maintenance. Eventually, the Ministry of Labor wants to train 300,000 male and female students every year in different technical and vocational fields.
Dr. Salih Al-Andas, dean of the College of Communication and Information in Riyadh, said the college has created the ideal training environment for students.
“We have set up workshops to acquaint students with various electronic devices and show them how to make an electric circuit. We have also workshops specifically designed to train students on computer maintenance,” he said.
“The ‘Learn and Work’ program has been applied successfully in several countries where high school students receive on-the-job training on a company’s premises to prepare them for the real world. A student has a better chance to discover his talents and find the program or field that he is most passionate about,” he said.
“Currently, we have 40 high school students who study computer technology and communications technology. Of course, the students who complete the program will be given priority to enroll in the college,” he added.
What students think
Abdullah Al-Muhammad recently joined the “Learn and Work” program. He describes the experience as a rewarding and rich one. “I got to learn many practical and theoretical lessons about electricity and electric circuits. I think I am going to major in this field after I finish high school,” he said.
Turki Al-Yousif, another trainee, commended the program and said he particularly liked how he received training inside actual workshops and not in the classroom.
“I’ve learned a lot about electric circuits and plan to study electrical engineering in the future,” he said.
The majority of students who joined the electric circuit program have expressed a strong desire to study electrical engineering. While it’s too soon to call the program a success, students’ initial reactions are promising for the future of the program.