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Nurturing Synergies
European Businesses Should Entry in the Dynamic
Saudi Training Market

By Piercamillo Falasca

Saudi Arabia’s corporate training sector has, over the past few years experienced significant growth, fuelled by its robust national economy and an increased demand for skilled workers across various industries. It is projected to reach a value of $17.7 billion by 2030. Sectors such as retail, finance, pharmaceuticals, renewable energy, IT, tourism, and government have all invested significantly in training initiatives. The expansion of the market is driven by economic growth, enhanced job opportunities, and a growing need for specialised training.

The Vision 2030 initiative, particularly the Human Capacity Development Program (HCDP), has played a vital role in boosting the corporate training market. Recognising the importance of a skilled workforce in achieving economic goals, both the public and private sectors actively participate in training programs to equip employees for the future. In January 2024, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development (HRSD) Ahmed Al-Rajhi issued a ministerial decision requiring private sector establishments with 50 or more employees to provide cooperative training for students. The goal is to improve the quality and efficiency of training programs, preparing students for the job market and enhancing their practical skills.

This decision mandates a documented and fixed-term contract, governed by labour laws, specifying required skills, training stages, and the profession. Establishments are urged to comply to avoid legal penalties. The HRRD initiative collaborates with the Ministry of Education, the General Organisation for Technical and Vocational Training, and the Human Resources Development Fund.

Saudi Arabia introduced new internal and external scholarship programs, sponsored by various entities, dedicated to enhancing opportunities for citizens to acquire skills and boost employability, contributing to economic diversification. The NEOM Corporate Social Responsibility department focuses on discovering and developing local talent through educational programs, including sustainable fashion initiatives and scholarships for programs in Italy. The Ministry of Sport's Saudi Future Falcons program, based in Spain, aims to improve football performance and youth talent.

The Ministry of Tourism is implementing a strategy to create highly qualified national cadres for leisure tourism. Saudi applicants can choose from 12 local and one overseas training program. The Ministry of Culture’s Cultural Scholarship Program sponsors Saudi students in creative specialisations worldwide.

Additionally, the Ministry of Culture is involved in the Royal Commission for Al Ula’s evolving activities, offering a scholarship program for young unemployed locals. It aims to build human capabilities aligned with Al Ula’s tourism development plan. Other public and private entities have also launched internal scholarship programs, such as the Saudi Data and AI Authority’s academy focusing on data-driven economies and the General Entertainment Authority's initiatives for the entertainment sector.

This collaborative effort to enhance the nation's capabilities could serve as a powerful tool of public diplomacy for a country which, regardless of persistent criticism from outside, nurtures strong ambitions to fly high and deeply transform itself. The flourishing Saudi training market not only signifies significant growth within the country but also presents a compelling opportunity for European companies, training centres, consultancy firms, and universities to actively engage and contribute to its evolving landscape. The increasing demand for diverse and specialised training programs across various industries opens avenues for fruitful collaborations.

European entities entering the Saudi training market can bring valuable expertise, methodologies, and educational resources, enriching the local landscape and enhancing the capabilities of the Saudi workforce. The mutual benefits of such partnerships extend beyond mere economic considerations. They facilitate the exchange of knowledge, cultural understanding, and innovative approaches, fostering a dynamic environment for learning and development.

By tapping into this growing market, European organisations have the chance to align with Saudi Arabia's ambitious Vision 2030 goals, particularly in the realm of human capital development. Collaborations in training and education can contribute to the realisation of shared objectives, promoting sustainable economic growth and technological advancements.

Furthermore, these partnerships create platforms for ongoing dialogue, research, and development, enabling European institutions to adapt and tailor their offerings to meet the specific needs of the Saudi market. The cross-cultural exchange inherent in such collaborations not only enriches the training programs but also establishes lasting connections that transcend geographical boundaries.

(15/01/2024)

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