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Located in Dammam, the academy will initially receive 250 trainees in 2018, gradually increasing to 1,200. Covering 18,000 square meters, the area includes workshops, plants, classrooms, and administrative and operational facilities that provide a secure and inspiring educational environment. Photo Source: Saudi Aramco

Saudi Aramco to establish the National Power Academy

Saudi Aramco helps to establish the National Power Academy as a sustainable and nonprofit organization to serve the national power sector, citizens, and various energy companies.

Together with nine local and international organizations, Saudi Aramco has established the National Power Academy (NPA) to provide the local and regional markets with highly qualified staff. The NPA’s vision is to be a world leader in the areas of vocational training and education to serve the national energy sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom is in the process of implementing a number of development plans, and achieving the highest growth rates on the economic and industrial levels. The national energy sector is one of the main sectors that can accommodate the growing demand for specialized staff in various branches and disciplines.

Although the Kingdom historically has been one of the biggest energy exporters, the domestic market still needs local staff across all energy sectors. Saudi Arabia is expected to witness significant population, economic, and industrial growth in the next two decades, considerably increasing the demand for electric power. This growth will be coupled with a great need for an increased workforce in this vital sector, which includes power generation, transmission, and distribution.

The idea for establishing the NPA started to crystallize in 2013, when Power Systems at Saudi Aramco decided, in cooperation with the training and development sector in the company, to establish a centre for training its staff and the staff of the companies working with it in the electric power field to fill the employment gap in Saudi Aramco. In 2014, following an in-depth feasibility study, an agreement was reached to establish an integrated academy that awards an accredited diploma to graduates of general secondary schools and vocational training centres, and offers various training courses for engineers and technicians working in the fields of electric power for short and long periods.

The idea for establishing the NPA came from the actual need of Saudi Aramco — and the Kingdom as a whole — for providing job opportunities for a qualified national workforce, and investing in the national human capital to achieve an economic balance in the various business sectors and professions within the power industry. After being convinced of the feasibility of an initiative with such magnitude and ambition, a letter of intent was signed in 2014 by academic institutions and companies to start the establishment of the academy. King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC), Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), and Saudi Aramco signed the letter of intent.

NPA is a unique model on the regional and local levels. It is a non-profit organization that supports the ambitions of future generations. It is also led by the industry, for the industry. It will help meet the needs of the labour market and offer targeted training programs to meet the current and future needs of the energy sector. Most importantly, it will increase the level of national employment through its unique model, which involves companies that sponsor trainees through training ending with employment.

Additionally, NPA offers unique programs in various disciplines required by employers and covers a wide range of technical requirements. These include newly developed training programs that keep abreast with the needs of this sector and its new specializations, such as smart grids, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and nuclear energy.

NPA endeavours to provide innovative and new training methods through training on equipment provided by partners, world suppliers, and manufacturers to mimic the real business world. Training is also based on simulation and virtual reality of the energy sector’s operations to prepare trainees to join the workforce right after graduation. The academy adopts a system requiring students to present applied and development research projects as graduation projects, and urges students to come up with ideas and projects that could make a substantial difference in the energy sector. Moreover, the academy takes pride in its unique training model that is based on sponsorship and post-training employment.

The NPA offers three training programs that are aligned with the needs of the local market. One of them is a diploma program for general secondary school students who are nominated by energy companies. It is a two-year theoretical and practical training program where students receive academic and technical training.

The academy also offers 3- to 12-month training program for professionals, such as electric and mechanical engineers who wish to pursue further education and receive specific training. This is in addition to short-term programs that offer three- to five-day courses in specific programs and disciplines for technicians, engineers and supervisory and management personnel who work in the energy field.