I’m currently in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia at the eighth Saudi technical conference and exhibition. This is essentially Saudi Arabia’s main vocational education conference. It has been an amazing trip (last night I rode a camel as you can see from the picture). There is a lot of very exciting stuff going on in Saudi around vocational education. The people here see the development of the Saudi vocational education system as key to the reforms that they are trying to make to the country’s economy. Essentially trying to shift Saudi Arabia from an economy which is dependent on oil and on foreign labour to one which has a more balanced and broadly based economy.
Inevitably I’m here to argue that career guidance is an important part of the development of the vocational education system. I think that career guidance will be important for the country as a way to engage young people in the vocational education system, as a way to ensure that the skills developed through the vocational education system are well utilised in the economy and to support the growth of a closer relationships between education and employment.
To this end I gave a keynote speech yesterday (click on it to download the slides).
I also gave a longer workshop with policy makers and vocational education principals from Saudi and other gulf states (again click to download).
Once again I’ve found this trip really interesting. In particular it has helped me to get a bit closer to practice in Saudi Arabia, whereas my previous trips here have mainly been focused at the policy level.