Saudi Arabia’s youth can unlock a digital future for the Kingdom

Saudi Arabia’s vision for a digitalized future is one that will enable the country to thrive through the immense potential of connectivity.

A digital future will redefine societies; enabling growth and development; enhancing education and industry; and building new capacity for accelerating the economy.

In Saudi Arabia, overall spending on information and communications technology (ICT) has been predicted to reach $37 billion this year.[1] The use of ICT will contribute around 5% to the KSA’s total GDP and 8% to non-oil GDP by 2022, according to Oxford Business Group.

Digital future and employment

Moreover, experts estimate that a successful digital transformation can decrease unemployment rates by 1% and contribute an additional 1% to GDP for every 20% increase in transformational technology investment.

[2] Current initiatives, such as ICT 2023; a five-year strategy to accelerate digital transformation and build a prosperous digital economy, are certainly establishing a strong base for the ICT ecosystem to thrive upon.

But what we now need is to turn our focus onto is the Kingdom’s youth; in order to prepare them to take over and drive their country’s digital future.

It is clear to see the instrumental role that technology; has already played in moving the Kingdom towards its ambitious goals for increasing global competitiveness and sustainability.

Developing and empowering ICT talent will contribute significantly towards the realization of Vision 2030 which places a strong emphasis on the economic potential of the ICT sector.

New talent is required to drive digital transformation on a national and industry-wide scale, which will contribute towards stable; continuous development for the Kingdom.

Talent demand and availability

With an average age of just 30, Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s youngest populations; which is a definite advantage when it comes to not only propelling digital transformation; but to training a new generation of ICT leaders.

Across the Saudi ICT ecosystem today, there is an urgent need for large numbers of technical staff. The gap between talent demand and talent availability hinders social and economic progress.

Building new skillsets for young people is something that is considered a priority in Saudi Arabia. It contributes to a stronger ICT ecosystem, which will in turn enable a robust; digitally-driven economy – therefore investing in developing young ICT talents is a win-win situation; that can only bring more benefits in the future, for everyone in the Kingdom.

Cooperation with ICT sector

For years now, Huawei has joined hands together with Saudi universities, local partners and suppliers; and our customers to address this talent gap within the ICT sector and support the Kingdom’s digital transformation.

Numerous initiatives exist within Saudi Arabia and are geared towards introducing young people to the ICT sector; educating them and enhancing their skills.

These talent training programs include ICT academies and annual ICT competitions, amongst others.

Today there are several ICT academies across the country, that started in cooperation with renowned and prestigious universities.

These academies operate in partnership with local educators and institutions; providing students with the opportunity to gain certifications in some of the most relevant areas of ICT today.

Courses at such institutions cover a wide range of technical fields, including 5G, cloud computing, big data, IoT; artificial intelligence, routing and switching, storage and WLAN.

To date; thousands of creative individuals have been trained and certified through these academies, providing them with the means to launch a career in the flourishing ICT industry.

ICT competitions

Even with the impact of COVID-19 and educational institutions closed as a result of the pandemic; students can access online training and certification programs to continue learning.

In addition to that, annual ICT competitions have seen more than 7,400 talented college students in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia participate in the past few years.

These competitions aim to increase ICT knowledge, stimulate youths’ interest in learning and innovation capabilities, and improve their self-learning and problem-solving abilities.

All of the above fall under Huawei’s Saudi Talent Enabling Program, also known as STEP, which aims to train and enable Saudi talent in the ICT field, creating a pool of over 10,000 trained professionals for the ICT industry in Saudi Arabia by 2023.

To realize this; Huawei works with a range of entities including government, partners, and education management authorities and institutions, to build a positive ICT talent ecosystem.

Huawei has also worked with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) to launch job fair specifically for careers within the ICT field, helping qualified experts to find employment within the sector.

Additionally, Huawei and MCIT launched the ‘Learn On’ platform during the COVID-19 pandemic; to support remote education and its Future Leaders program.

With such immense potential amongst a young population, Saudi Arabia is a goldmine of ICT talent.

Harnessing this potential by making training and skills development opportunities accessible will build a solid ecosystem of local talent and future ICT leaders; who will drive the development of the Kingdom’s digital economy.

This will ensure that the country has the best possible chance to not only realize its digitization ambitions, but to carry them forward for a brighter connected future for all.