The Misk Foundation (Misk), the nonprofit organization founded by H.R.H. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2011 to empower Saudi young people, today announced the launch of the pilot phase of a new technology skills training program for young people in Saudi Arabia, through its partnership global education pioneer General Assembly (GA).
The training program commenced today with 30 students participating in sessions run by General Assembly instructors at the Misk headquarters in Riyadh. Students will benefit from GA’s employer-driven, practitioner-taught training. The program will prepare participants with highly relevant digital skills, a robust project portfolio and a ‘lifelong learning’ mindset that will enable them to respond and adapt to future changes in technology. Following the trial phase, additional cohorts of students will participate in GA’s immersive trainings to equip them with skills in dynamic fields such as machine learning, web development, cybersecurity, and product management.
“H.R.H. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recent visit to London and other cities focused on the importance of international collaboration and our partnership with General Assembly is showing, in a practical way, the impact this has on young Saudis and our rapidly transforming economy,” said Deemah AlYahya, Advisor and CEO of Misk Innovation.
She continued, “Misk’s mission to empower young Saudis to thrive in the future economy as we shift gear and accelerate into the Fourth Industrial Revolution where they will be embracing extraordinary advances in technological, biomedical and scientific progress. The type and delivery of skills must adapt quickly as this tidal wave of change, so that youth are maximally prepared to realize the enormous prospects of an exciting future. General Assembly and Misk are united in being at the vanguard of change in the way skills are imparted, so we’re proud to host the first training scheme of its kind in the Middle East/Arabian Gulf. The rapid take up and number of women who are participating shows the huge demand for future-focused training and Misk will work with General Assembly and other international partners to develop a hub of IT excellence creating a pipeline of skilled talent.”
“General Assembly is excited to be part of the radical transformation happening in the region, and to support the tremendous men and women who are looking to acquire new skills and transform their careers,” said Jake Schwartz, CEO and Co-Founder of General Assembly. “The massive demand for this pilot program highlights the excitement and enthusiasm among young people in Saudi Arabia to become leaders in the digital economy. We are excited to empower the students in this pilot cohort and continue to partner with Misk to build the next generation of leaders in the Middle East.”
Over 800 individuals applied for a spot in the program. Of the 30 participants that were ultimately selected, 18 are women while the remaining 12 are men, representing the pathways to opportunity that digital skills are creating for women in the region. The first cohort includes students who displayed a strong sense of direction for how they would like to apply their knowledge in a practical setting, as well as those who possess a familiarity with data science and digital technology.
In contrast to traditional education and training models, which are typically centered on theoretical exploration of a topic, the program focusses heavily on the practical application of the skills taught in the curriculum and is designed to provide participants with the knowledge and confidence needed to take on new roles and responsibilities within their career.
By 2021, Misk and GA will offer GA’s award-winning technology training to more than 4,000 men and women in the region, preparing them for careers in web development, data science, design, digital marketing, and product management, among other disciplines. These courses will be taught on the ground in Riyadh by world-class industry practitioners from GA’s global instructor network, and build on GA’s award-winning curriculum, designed and tested with a network of cutting-edge startups and Fortune 500 companies.
This follows the signing on March 9 of a partnership between the two organizations by H.E. Bader Al Asaker, Chairman of the Board of Misk Initiative Center and Jake Schwarz, CEO and Co-Founder of General Assembly during the visit to London by the Saudi Crown Prince.
GA is a leading disruptor in the global education space and has prepared tens of thousands of adults around the world with in-demand 21st century skills. To date, over 50,000 students have participated in GA’s digital skills transformation programs, and close to 300 companies, including one-third of the Fortune 100, have worked with GA to deliver radical reskilling initiatives and develop customized talent pipelines.
Through its partnership with Misk, GA will operate alongside other leading training providers, including Harvard University, Khan Academy, and LinkedIn, to provide education to thousands of Saudi Arabians, adding to the ranks of leading education and talent innovators working to build a new Saudi Arabia.