Under the terms of the six-year, $8.2 million contract signed in Atlanta on May 29, 2012, the TCSG will collaborate with King Faisal University (KFU) in Alahsa, Saudi Arabia, to expand workforce training in the Middle East nation.
According to the agreement, the TCSG will provide consultation and technical education program development assistance to help create the King Faisal University Community College in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia. The TCSG will work with KFU on acquiring faculty and staff for the college, along with aligning and developing curriculum and assisting with the assessment of instructional programming. In addition, the TCSG will advise KFU on their institutional effectiveness, including accreditation processes and procedures.
The associate degree programs that the TCSG will help develop include the fields of medical technology, business office technology, information technology and industrial technology.
The KFU president, Dr. Yussuf Aljindan, led the signing delegation in Atlanta. Also present were Dr. Ahmad Alshoaibi, KFU vice president for Studies, Development & Community Service, Dr. Abdulhakim Almatar, KFU director of Institutional Accreditation, Dr. Smehan Alrashidi, KFU dean of Academic Development, and Dr. Nourredine Khababa, a member of the KFU business administration faculty.
The TCSG was represented by a contingent of system officials that included Paul Holmes, chairman of the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia, Dr. Lynn Cornett, the vice chair of the TCSG State Board, and Dr. Sanford Chandler, the assistant commissioner for the TCSG Office of Global Initiatives.
The Saudi connection with the TCSG evolved after KFU officials sought input from one of their nation’s largest employers, petroleum giant Saudi Aramco, and identified more than 40 technical training areas that needed to be enhanced in order to improve the quality of the country’s workforce.
Last January, a contingent from KFU led by Dr. Alshoaibi visited three Georgia technical colleges – Athens Tech, Atlanta Tech, and Georgia Northwestern Tech – and came away impressed after seeing the TCSG education model firsthand. Soon thereafter, Dr. Chandler was in Saudi Arabia, meeting with the education officials and starting the extensive negotiation process that culminated with the agreement to bring TCSG training to the KFU campuses. Athens, Atlanta and Georgia Northwestern technical colleges will play prominent roles in the plan, including awarding joint degrees with the new college.
“This is a major step forward for the Technical College System of Georgia. Building an international education alliance like this one with our friends at King Faisal University connects our colleges’ excellent reputation for technical education and workforce development to the global community.” said Chandler.
According to President Aljindan, providing competency-based, technical education is a new concept for Saudi Arabia and one that he is very excited to undertake. He noted that he and his KFU colleagues were very impressed with not only the excellent quality of the TCSG college programs, but also the high rate of employment for TCSG graduates.
Data from the Georgia Department of Labor shows that the job placement rate for TCSG graduates is almost 80 percent; additional technical college data indicates that the placement rate rises to above 90 percent when self-employed entrepreneurs and students who continue their college education are included.