Case Studies Support for a new National Vocational Certification Body – Saudi Skills Standards

Vocational Middle East Qualifications and Standards


Ensuring good jobs and promising careers for Saudi Nationals is one of the most important priorities for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) has been identified as the most critical lever for improving the value of human resources and helping Saudi youth play a productive and meaningful role in the local labour market. In 2015 the proportion of the Saudi workforce receiving technical and vocational training was less than 10%, but the Kingdom set an ambitious target of 40-45%, dramatically increasing capacity from about 100,000 students to around 400,000 by 2023, while simultaneously improving the quality of the system.


Saudi Skills Standards (SSS) was established as the primary regulatory and awarding body overseeing TVET in Saudi Arabia. The team at SSS needed help in rapidly developing capacity and capability to operate a national TVET certification body.

SSS performed three main functions:

  • Defining the National Occupational Skills Standards (NOSS) according to labour market needs, and defining qualifications based on these NOSS.
  • Assessing and certificating trainees based on outcomes defined in the NOSS.
  • Reviewing and grading training providers within a quality framework.

AlphaPlus supported SSS for 5 years from 2013:

  • Developing over 50 NOSS
  • Designing 100 Associate Diploma and Diploma level qualifications
  • Producing Assessment resources (tests and skills assessments)
  • Providing support, training and capacity development to SSS staff
  • Establishing a governance framework for quality assurance in certification, assessment frameworks, credit frameworks and short course programmes.

We continue to work with partners in the Middle East in growing the use of external certification and quality assurance to TVET to improve local employment opportunities.

Our role

  • Developing a new national certification body for vocational education.
  • Building capacity for immediate operations.
  • Providing training and support.
  • Producing a major portfolio of core vocational programmes.