Riyadh Metro

Saudi students visit one of BACS consortium partners as part of the JTTP.

Saudi students visit one of BACS consortium partners as part of the JTTP.

Partnerships upskill Saudi workforce

March 2019

The Riyadh Metro project has been a wonderful opportunity to upskill construction capabilities, according to Alwalid A Alekrish, vice-president, projects and programs at the RDA.

“The presence of international construction companies has resulted in knowledge transfer, both to Saudis employed on the project and also to local firms. They’ve learned about new techniques and technologies, as well as delivering to international standards. This has helped raise the game of Saudi construction companies who are increasingly able to compete successfully against international companies at home and abroad,” he comments.

“The quality we’ve demanded from construction firms is very high – a 100-year design life. It’s a lot to ask, but we are building for the future. This will not only benefit passengers, but has also helped Saudi firms move up the value chain,” Alekrish adds.

The metro project is more than building an integrated, multi-modal public transport system – it is also building the industry around it. The requirement to develop a talent pool of Saudi expertise, to ensure as many Saudis as possible are able to take on the roles required to operate, maintain and oversee the system, has mandated that a mechanism of support and training and knowledge transfer be put in place.

The metro is an excellent training ground for a new generation of young Saudi engineers. In addition, both the design-and-build contractors and programme management/construction management (PMCM) consultants have provided good quality off-the-job training.

Among such initiatives is the Joint Technology Transfer Program (JTTP).

The three design-and-build consortia (BACS, ANM and FAST) worked with the Riyadh Development Authority (RDA) to establish the JTTP and develop a tailored programme for mainly engineering undergraduates through leading Saudi universities, encompassing a series of technical presentations and workshops, and the enrolment of at least 10 interns each year, shared amongst the three consortia.

The structured internship programme has included visits around the world to home countries of some of the renowned companies engaged through the consortia [FCC (Spain), Bechtel (US),  Siemens and Alstom (France), Samsung (South Korea), and Ansaldo (Italy)], or the supply chain.

Practical experience was also gained in Riyadh during the construction phase which, allied with a series of classroom-based presentations from across the wider public transport project, served to give the students a solid grounding in the project. To date over 180  interns have benefited from the programme, with the obligation to continue being transferred to the future operator. They received their certificates of completion from HRH Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz, the deputy governor of Riyadh Region, last October.

Last year also saw the inclusion of Saudi female engineering undergraduates into the programme.

With the appointment of the operation and maintenance contractors for the Riyadh Metro, the efforts of the construction companies in the JTTP will be realised through the Public Transport Institute – with targeted development schemes to equip young engineers, and those involved in the operation and maintenance of the bus and metro system, with the range of skills required for this emerging industry. These will mainly be delivered through a series of 36 week-long workshops, covering construction- and systems-related themes, as well as generic project management activities.  

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