Saudi Arabia has begun to offer short technical courses – among them household electronics and computing – to both Saudi men and women in a bid to ease the country's reliance on foreign labor, Arabian Business reported on Thursday.
The move comes as part of recent efforts to build a more self-reliant economy in the kingdom.
According to the latest news report, a successful pilot course for more than 4,600 trainees ended before Ramadan and is due to resume, with expanded course offerings, after the Eid holiday.
Other than a small registration fee, all classes are free of charge and have thus far proven popular among many young Saudis.
Saudi's can rely on their own skills
Speaking to Arabian Business, Ahmad Fahad al-Fahaid, who heads the state-owned Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) explained that while the new adult courses are not designed to immediately qualify people for the job market, they aim to lessen their reliance on skilled expatriate labor in day-to-day home and business maintenance activities.
The classes also aim to "dispel misconceptions that Saudis don't like to get their hands dirty in manual work, much of which is done by millions of expatriates."
"Nobody told them, nobody taught them, nobody trained them, so that's why we stepped in," Fahaid added.
Speaking to Arabian Business, Mohammed Al Harbi, a trainee, who joined the household electronics course at the Riyadh Technical College said that with the skills he has now gained, he no longer finds the need to hire expatriate laborers to fix appliances that break down at his business or home.
Another trainee, Sultan Abdullah, explained that Saudi youths face "strong competition" from South Asians and other expatriates, adding that "it is better for our country" if more locals could find jobs.
Weaning the kingdom off expats under vision 2030
Official figures reveal that close to nine million foreigners are employed in the kingdom.
However, these numbers were released before the country intensified efforts to reduce its reliance on foreign labor and boost employment opportunities for Saudi nationals under the kingdom's 2030 vision.
The ambitious blueprint aims to fight unemployment, develop non-oil industries, support small and medium enterprises, and create a broader investment base in the kingdom.
Many orders have been passed under it, including one that terminates all contracts with expatriate workers in governments and ministries within three years and another that limits jobs in shopping malls to Saudi nationals.