The surge in the number of women entering the labor market in recent years is credited with the increasing number of people seeking to learn English, say practitioners and experts in the field.
There have been major changes in the structure of the labor market over the past five years owing to the influx of female applicants for job posts in various sectors. Saudi female employees now account for about 40 percent of learners at English teaching institutes, according to experts.
With many localization schemes in place in the public and private sectors, more women are now joining the job market and this, experts say, makes it necessary for many of them to be able to communicate in English.
According to data provided by the vocational training department, the phenomenon also highlights the popularity of English language teaching institutes. There are more than 600 such institutes at present.
Official support from state and government agencies such as the Human Resources Development Fund, which subsidizes English courses for the underprivileged, has also contributed to such an increase.
Khalid Ad Drai’an, corporate director at the Gulf Training Company, which owns 80 centers and institutes countrywide, said there is continuous development of curricula and teaching methodologies at the teaching centers in the Kingdom, which makes learning English at home a more attractive option than going abroad.
Khalid said: “Our institutes are much cheaper than those available abroad and we also have qualified staff. This is a welcome development for women because only a few can study English outside Saudi Arabia.”
“The centers employ teachers who are native English speakers, most of whom come from the US, the UK, Ireland, Australia, South Africa or Canada. They teach specific courses in the English medium.” According to statistics from the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI), there are more than 160,000 Saudi women working in the private sector, up from 70,000 less than three years ago.