A new initiative initiated by the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Labor and Social Development and the Social Charity Fund is aimed at helping welfare recipients find gainful employment in the labor market.
According to a spokesperson for the ministry's Social Development Department, the initiative is part of plans and objectives for the kingdom’s NTP 2020 and Vision 2030 strategic goals.
The “Tamkeen” program, as it’s known, will provide training and assistance with the recruiting processes with participating companies that have available job opportunities.
Government officials describe the project as an effort to “develop the human capital” of the country – but it’s also a way to give people hope in a nation with chronically high unemployment.
Job training programs like this one have often been successful in the Gulf Coast region and in other parts of the world.
Joe Carella, assistant dean of executive education at the University of Arizona who has trained Saudi executives at Xenel and Sabic and is currently working at developing Emirati talent at DP World.
“The big question is how it is set up.” Joe Carella, assistant dean of executive education at the University of Arizona who has trained Saudi executives at Xenel and Sabic told the Gulf News Journal. “(A program like this) can help to close a skills mismatch. … It can play a role in helping groups that have been marginalized, and disadvantaged groups, to improve their economic potential.”
Part of the benefit is that newly employed people can contribute to the economy, Carella, who is currently working at developing Emirati talent at DP World, said. “They have more money to spend.” Carella said.
Pointing to successful programs including NSCS India and Chile Joven, Carella said it's important for many stakeholders to be involved.
NSCS India was proposed in 2013 by the Indian finance minister and is implemented through public and private partnerships,to provide incentives for skill certifications along with assessment and training.
Chile Joven was started in 1991 by the Chilean government in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to help “at-risk youth.”
“You want to make sure that you partner with youth groups as well.” Carella said.
In addition, he said, there have to be practical, hands-on learning applications in order to really effectively train people.
Carella described past training efforts that were only supported by conventional education styles.
“What they did was a lot of classroom-based learning - that's not enough.” Carella said.
The best approach, he said, is to include things like role play, simulations and apprenticeships that actually let students learn first-hand.
Also, Carella said, it’s important to research the particular needs of students, and not just address the entire group on the same level. Carella cited the NSCS India program, where planners localized the program to target it to workers in different parts of the geographically diverse country.
“Different groups need different tools.” Carella said. “You might have people who have been in the workforce and dropped out - that doesn't mean they have lost their fundamental skills.”
If the Saudi program incorporates these kinds of ideas, it could be a real boost to the kingdom at a time when Saudi leadership needs it most.