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Working in Saudi Arabia - Further Education in action

Thousands more men and women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are set to benefit from vocational education and training delivered by some of the best providers in the UK. The Hertvec Consortium has been awarded a £225 million contract to establish three “Colleges of Excellence” in the Kingdom. Hertvec is collaboration between Hertford Regional College, North Hertfordshire College and the University of Hertfordshire and have been supported by UKTI.

The consortium is partnering with the Kingdom’s Samama Holdings Group, which employs over 10,000 employees specialising in construction and facilities management. Samama was founded over 25 years ago by Sheikh Nasser, a prominent member of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce. The agreement with the Kingdom was signed on the 8th of April.

Sheikh Nasser, Chairman of Samama said: “I am very pleased that my Group will be working closely with the consortium to deliver an employer - led vocational curriculum. This will be totally focused on the labour market requirements of the Kingdom. Establishing our three Hertfordshire Colleges of Excellence will be very rewarding.”

Located centrally in the Kingdom near Riyadh, the Hertvec Colleges of Excellence will open in September 2014. The Colleges will offer certificates and diplomas in specialised areas for Saudi high school graduates and will dramatically enhance technical and vocational education and training in Saudi Arabia.

Three Colleges will be run by Hertvec in this phase of development. They include:

• Unaizah College of Excellence

• Unaizah Female College of Excellence

Al Zulfi College of Excellence

Based in new purpose-built facilities, the Colleges will focus on developing foundation skills with a high priority on the English language in year one. The curriculum will be developed for the country and will broaden to reflect market need. The UK collaboration is supported by world–leading digital resources, unrivalled sector knowledge and internationally recognised awarding bodies. Leading the team are Andy Forbes, Principal of Hertfordshire Regional College and Signe Sutherland, Principal of North Hertfordshire College.

Andy Forbes said: “I'm very excited to be involved in bringing the UK's world class model of Further Education to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This will open up new opportunities for international jobs and training, not only for the young people of Saudi Arabia, but for staff and students at the two Hertfordshire colleges involved. My vision is for the Hertfordshire Colleges of Excellence in Saudi Arabia to be beacons of good practice in vocational education and symbols of global cooperation across countries and cultures."

Signe Sutherland said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to deliver the vision for the vocational education agenda in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As a member of the Gazelle group of colleges our particular strength lies in delivering a curriculum that fosters business and entrepreneurial skills. Our colleges in Qassim province will contribute to communities with a long history of education and learning for young men and women. We will focus on an enterprising curriculum which will utilise the latest digital learning technology, so that our learners can gain vocational skills and make a positive impact on the economy of the country.”

I have been asked to join the mobilsation team, led by Marilyn Hawkins. I visited Saudi Arabia last week and found it a fascinating experience. There is much to do - the vision of the Colleges of Excellence is exciting. Watch this space

Pictured are the Hertforshire Consortium Team, Allan Tyrer, North Herts College, Sue Handford, Interim Marketing, Harry Kirk, Samama Holdings Group, Dr Saleh Alamr, CEO Colleges of Excellence, Andy Forbes,Principal of Hertfordshire Regional College, Marilyn Hawkins, Interim CEO of the Consortium, David Pitcher, Herts Regional College   

Picture of the Consortium Team with the Chief Executive of the Colleges Of Excellence at the signing ceremony, April 8th 2014