Saudi Arabia has launched a wide range of technical adult learning courses for men and women, to equip them with useful life skills and reduce the dependence on expat labour.

Among the courses, which are free aside from a small registration fee, are mechanical skills, computing and household electronics.

The courses aren’t designed to provide professional qualifications in their particular fields, but will give Saudis the skills and confidence to carry out technical tasks themselves, such as fixing a car at home or a computer at work. They form part of a wider push by the kingdom to develop a more self-reliant economy.

According to Ahmad Fahad al-Fahaid, who runs the state-owned Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC), the courses are also designed to “dispel misconceptions that Saudis don't like to get their hands dirty in manual work, much of which is done by millions of expatriates,” he told Arabian Business.

It reflects public requests for “different kinds of courses” for all ages, Fahaid said, adding: “A lot of Saudis are keen to learn new skills.”

Instead of focusing on broadening the skills of younger generations, as part of its Vision 2030 to diversify the economy, these technical courses are a more immediate fix to an over-reliance on paying people to do jobs that can often be completed with basic knowledge.

Elsewhere, the Yanbu Technical Institute (YTI) has signed an agreement with GE Oil and Gas to provide comprehensive training on a wide range of digital industrial skills that will improve the career prospects of Saudis in the energy industry.

Ed J. Boufarah, vice president of GE Oil and Gas Digital Solutions — Middle East Africa, Turkey and Pakistan, told Arab News: “The training and development of Saudi professionals and students has been a top priority for GE Oil & Gas.

“Through our partnership with the Yanbu Technical Institute, we are nurturing the new generation of technical professionals who will be fully equipped to meet the needs of the industry.”

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