More than 50 million Saudi Arabian riyal (US $13 million) is being invested in the Al Watania Institute of Technology (WIT), set up as a charity to train the country’s nationals to world-class standards in poultry production with a plan to extend this opportunity to students across the GCC’s member states.
The WIT is a partnership between Al Watania, the largest poultry producer in Saudi Arabia, and the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC). It has already around 200 trainees – with 500 expected in the near future – to study all aspects of poultry production as well as the English language and basic science.
Impressive inauguration day
The inauguration day at Bukariyyah was attended by Qassim Gov Prince Faisal bin Mishaal, Sheikh Suleiman bin Abdul Aziz Al Rajhi, Al Watania poultry chairman, Dr Ahmed bin Fahd Al-Fuhaid, TVTC governor, and Dr Mohammad Al Rajhi, WIT chairman, together with more than 300 representatives of the Saudi and global poultry industry.
Al-Fuhaid stated: "In launching the institute Prince Faisal has again shown his keenness in the training of citizens in various areas that would provide them with employment opportunities. The aim is to meet the requirements of the labour market by training Saudi cadres so that they can become competitive in the local poultry industry. The partnership between the TVTC and other local and foreign organisations aims to train citizens in accordance with international standards."
"A visionary concept"
Roy Mutimer, Europe, Middle East and Asia vice president of Cobb-Vantress, one of the partners and sponsors, said the WIT concept is "truly visionary in collaborating between industry, national government and local authorities."
"We believe WIT will generate talented, professional graduates that will help develop and improve poultry operations in the Kingdom, the region and beyond. WIT could act as a template around the world for solving the ongoing challenges of attracting and developing young talent for the poultry industry.
International poultry experts
The course material has been written by local and international poultry experts in co-operation with Cobb, who will be hosting top WIT students on month-long placements within its operations in Europe and the US.
The 1st year of training consists of an intensive English course, general preparation subjects and basic poultry skills. The 2nd year includes intensive theoretical and practical training on different subjects of poultry processing with at least 2 months' on-the-job tuition.
Expansion for Al Watania
Al Watania embarked on an ambitious expansion programme in 2010 to double its annual production to 1.1 million broilers a day by 2016, and reached 750,000 birds/day in 2014. Saudi Arabia is aiming to increase poultry production to reduce imports; in 2015 about 42% of the country's total needs of 1.44 million tonnes were met by local output.
Roy Mutimer, Europe, Middle East and Asia vice president of Cobb-Vantress, speaking at the launch of the Saudi Arabia training initiative