Education, manpower needs and socio-economic development in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia, in its present stage of socio-economic development, is short of trained men, in administration, industry, steel, power and commerce. The demand for educated men of various levels is, therefore, very urgent, for not a single sector of a modern economy can work efficiently without people educated in modem methods. The deficiencies in training and manpower are inevitable in a country like Saudi Arabia which has only belatedly come to the 20th century in terms of its contact with science and technology. The transition is a difficult one for a country in which a modem education system was not a significant force until 1953A. D. (1373A. H. ), namely after the establishment of the Ministry of Education. Moreover, the realization of the importance of linking education with manpower needs was not officially recognized until the late 1960s, namely after the publication of the two official reports by the Central Planning Organization; first An Economic Report in the Kingdom, in 1965, and secondly, Planning for Growth in the Kingdom, in 1967. The implementation of a planning approach was initiated very recently with the submission to the Council of Ministers, for the first time in Saudi Arabia's history, of a Five Year Development Plan, on 16/8/1970A. D. (13/6/1390 A. H. ) If Saudi Arabia is to engage in industrialization, on a big scale, as it must, some means must be found to provide the new economy more quickly with the expertise which it urgently needs for it clearly demands much more in the way of skilled talent and intellect than the existing educational facilities are capable of producing. In an attempt to answer the main questions raised by the current problem of acute shortage of Saudi skilled manpower in the light of the socio-economic development now taking place in Saudi society, this thesis examines briefly the importance of the role of Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab's movement, on which the present Saudi Kingdom is based; analyses the causes which brought about the introduction of a modern education system into the country; seeks to shed light on the availability. of natural resources and their exploitation within the Kingdom; discusses the existing labour force and skilled manpower from within and without; and makes a general survey quantitatively and qualitatively of the education system to identify those features which relate to the task of making the education system more relevant to the present needs of Saudi Arabia in developing skilled manpower for socio-economic development. An outline of the initial stages of manpower study in the country is provided and the conclusion is offered of the need to combine the elements of manpower planning, educational planning and economic planning within the framework of entire socio-economic development initiated by the Saudi Arabian Government.