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NZ Company to Establish New Polytechnic in Saudi Arabia

New Zealand Company to Establish New Polytechnic in Saudi Arabia

Wellington, 9th August 2012 - In a major boost for export education services to the Middle East, New Zealand education provider Polytechnics International New Zealand (PINZ) has signed a five-year contract to provide training that will support growth in Saudi Arabia’s electricity industry.

PINZ outbid a strong international field to secure the training services project that will be managed jointly with the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC).

PINZ and SEC are establishing a two-year vocational training programme in electricity focused on study majors in generation, transmission and distribution at the Saudi Electric Services Polytechnic (SESP) in the Jizan Province community of Baish.

PINZ will operate the new institution, providing management, teaching and support staff, a first for New Zealand training providers in Saudi Arabia.

SESP, a new facility in south western Saudi Arabia developed in partnership with SEC and Saudi Arabia’s Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC), is one of over 100 new vocationally-focused tertiary institutions being established in Saudi Arabia over the next decade.

Saudi school leavers will be recruited and enrolled into SESP and, after graduation, hired by the Saudi Electricity Company. The Saudi trainees will spend a year studying English language and foundation courses before moving into technical training and development in the second year. They will complete their study with six months on-the-job training before entering the Saudi workforce as qualified technicians with SEC.

Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec) is a major partner in the project - the course being developed for delivery in Saudi Arabia uses Wintec’s resources and is being adapted from Wintec’s curriculum.

PINZ’s CEO Hone McGregor says the contract, which he describes as one of the most significant to be won by a New Zealand organisation in the education services sector, builds on an existing relationship between PINZ and TVTC.

PINZ is managing a separate scholarship programme for TVTC which is bringing up to 460 high achieving students from Saudi colleges of technology to study in New Zealand polytechnics. The King Abdullah Scholarship Programme for Technical Trainers (KASPTT) is a key element in TVTC’s drive to ensure a pool of internationally qualified staff for its growing number of tertiary institutions. Graduates from this scheme could potentially be future staff at SESP.

“This latest contract establishes a long-term partnership with a significant international corporation,” says Mr. McGregor. “It also helps to reframe export education services in the way New Zealand wants – with our highly regarded programmes being delivered offshore in partnership with other agencies.”

Ibrahim M. Balghonaim, SEC’s Human Resources Development Executive Director, and Shaker H. Al-Mahasenah, SESP’s Managing Director, were part of a high level delegation that visited New Zealand, including Wintec’s facility in Waikato, during the project’s prequalification stages.

Mr. Al-Mahasenah says SEC’s senior management acknowledged that PINZ submitted one of the most thorough proposals in a tough international field.

“What we found matched the scope of our project and our vision in terms of the quality of training that could be provided. This has potential to be one of the best strategic partnerships operating in Saudi Arabia. Demand for electric power is growing rapidly in Saudi Arabia and we want our Saudi citizens to be qualified to safely and efficiently handle the jobs needed to support that expansion,” said Mr. Al-Mahasenah.

Mr. Al-Mahasenah says SEC is looking to PINZ and to New Zealand to give Saudi citizens the skills they need to take the electricity industry into the future.

Grant McPherson, Chief Executive of Education New Zealand, the lead government agency for international education says: “The Government has set an ambitious goal to grow the social and economic value of international education over the years ahead. That goal, which aims to double the value of international education to $5 billion by 2025, includes targets to increase annual revenues from providing education services offshore to at least $0.5 billion.

“This initiative is a great example of how a wide variety of expertise from here and other parts of the world can successfully come together to harness international opportunities to increase the value of education – for both the benefit of New Zealand, and for the countries we work with.”

PINZ is currently preparing curriculum and recruiting staff to work on the project with the first intake at the Saudi Electric Services Polytechnic expected to begin training next month (September 2012).

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