A £9 million training initiative, designed to equip poultry industry students with world-class skills, has been opened at the Al Watania Institute of Technology (WIT) in Saudi Arabia.
Set up by Al Watania, the largest poultry producer in Saudi Arabia, and the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation, the venture is part-sponsored by Cobb-Vantress, who see the development as a possible global “template” for solving the challenge of attracting and developing young talent for the poultry industry.
That was certainly how the company’s Europe, Middle East and Asia vice president, Roy Mutimer, described the initiative during the recent official opening, commenting that the WIT concept was “truly visionary” in its collaboration of industry, national government and local authority input.
“We at Cobb are proud to be a major sponsor because we believe WIT will generate talented, professional graduates that will help develop and improve poultry operations in the Kingdom, the region and beyond,” he said.
“The facilities are world-class and the combination of language training, poultry theory lectures and practical training with in-house laboratory, farming and hatchery equipment supplemented by industry placements is truly unique.”
WIT already has around 200 trainees, potentially rising to 500 in the near future. They will study all aspects of poultry production as well as the English language and basic science.
Course materials have been written by local and international poultry experts in co-operation with Cobb, who will also be hosting top WIT students on month-long placements within its operations in Europe and the US.
The inauguration day was attended by Qassim Gov Prince Faisal bin Mishaal, Sheikh Suleiman bin Abdul Aziz Al Rajhi, Al Watania poultry chairman, Dr Ahmed bin Fahd Al-Fuhaid, TVTC governor, and Dr Mohammad Al Rajhi, WIT chairman, together with more than 300 representatives of the Saudi and global poultry industry.
Saudi Arabia is aiming to increase poultry production to reduce imports. In 2015 about 42% of the country’s total needs of 1.44 million tonnes were met by local output. As part of the country’s domestic expansion, Al Watania announced expansion plans in 2010 which are geared to double its annual output to 1.1 million broilers a day by 2016.
Headline image shows Roy Mutimer speaking at the launch of the new training initiative