Saudi Aramco, along with our strategic partners, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the National Information Technology Academy.
The MoU was signed by representatives from Saudi Aramco, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), and the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC), with representatives from major information and communications technology (ICT) companies such as Oracle, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Huawei, Wipro, SAP, Cisco, and Mobily in attendance.
The academy’s strategic objectives are aligned with those of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 — developing the IT sector and a digital economy, increasing local workforce skills, equipping citizens with competencies that will meet the future needs of the labor market, and increasing female participation in the workforce.
The academy will invest in Saudi human capital by equipping young Saudis with market relevant ICT skills, bridging the skills gap, and developing a “job-ready” talent pool. Its curriculum will focus on technical and professional skills, as well as address emerging technologies that are aligned with market needs where students are “trained to hire.”
The academy’s operating model will offer three streams:
- The Core stream: A two-year foundation program that offers high school graduates ICT technical and academic courses (i.e., business English, interpersonal skills, etc.)
- The Bridge stream: An on-demand bridge program that offers vocational and university graduates ICT advanced technical courses and professional certifications, as well as academic courses
- The Distance Learning stream: A stream that offers students a web-based platform to access courses from anywhere.
A key component of the academy’s operating model is the use of online and virtual technologies to support distance learning, thereby expanding outreach to the furthest regions of the Kingdom and allowing students to become active participants in the learning process.
The academy’s vision is to build capacity that will increase Saudization in the ICT local market by bridging the skills gap between academia and the industry.
Establishing strategic partnerships with stakeholders and major sector companies, Saudi Aramco has established 11 specialized academies across various disciplines that include drilling, construction, inspection, and industrial training.
These academies have more than 8,000 Saudi students who are all sponsored by companies — Saudi Aramco contractors, vendors, and suppliers — which is the model that the National IT Academy will apply.
Yousef A. Al Ulyan, Information Technology executive director at Saudi Aramco, said the establishment of the academy will require active participation and commitment from key players in the ICT sector.
“Today, we have among us leaders in the ICT market who come with a strong corporate social responsibility. Through strategic partnerships and collective efforts, we will effectively enable the academy to meet its objectives and bridge gaps where approximately 35% of the ICT labor market is missed — primarily for not having the right skill mix in the ICT workforce,” Al Ulyan said.
Nabil K. Al Dabal, general manager of Training and Development (T&D) at Saudi Aramco, highlighted the benefits of the Academy.
“The National IT Academy facilitates the creation of a thriving, diversified economy that will provide higher economic profits and ample opportunities for higher education, training and development, and entrepreneurship,” he said, noting that this will be the 12th such academy established by T&D and that the organization has a goal of establishing a total of 25 by 2025.
“After securing stakeholder and partnership alignment, a board of trustees and a tech steering committee will be established. The board will look into developing an academy charter and establishing a legal entity,” Al Dabal said.
Next year, the board will approve the facilities, acquire, and install the necessary equipment, partner with training service providers, establish organizational structure, and select and enroll trainees. The academy is working to admit 700 ICT students by the end of the third quarter of 2017.