InspirEngage & partners secure £75m contract to launch first ever female-only vocational college in Saudi

Above: Sunaina Mann, Principal of Nescot and first Asian Principal in the UK, at the contract signing.

A consortium of colleges, universities and social enterprise InspirEngage International, have secured a £75m contract to run the first women-only vocational college in Saudi Arabia, launching in September 2013.

The consortium headed up by Nescot College is working with Highbury College in Portsmouth, Burton and South Derbyshire College, Hull University and Birmingham City University, to launch this important institution in September 2013 in Jeddah. InspirEngage, who work extensively in the Middle East, will be delivering Life Skills, Employability and Enterprise programmes at the college, tailored to Arab women.

Five hundred students will start at the college in the autumn studying courses including IT, beauty, fashion, jewellery design, business administration and English.

Saudi Arabia was last year ranked 131 out of 135 by the Global Gender Gap, which assessed equality between men and women. Although 60 per cent of graduates in Saudi Arabia are female, only 17 per cent of these women are in the job market.

Last week, InspirEngage CEO Melody Hossaini attended the G8 Summit on Arab women where Tara Vishanwath, Senior Economist on MENA from the World Bank. outlined; “The last 3 decades has seen progress on closing gender gap. More females attending Universities and enrolling into education- however this is not translating into economic participation.”

This is where InspirEngage’s role in the partnership can be vital because as we see, formal education alone won’t necessarily result in the girls going onto employment or business.

Melody Hossaini stated; “Through innovative and inspiring InspirEngage Bootcamps and through local partnerships, we will support the girls to explore and secure employment or business that suits their lifestyles. That’s the key. Recently we’re seeing a trend of Arabic girls running businesses through instagram from their homes- it’s all about finding a path that suits you personally- and that’s what we’ll be helping the students with.”

Two girls in InspirEngage Bootcamp

She continued; “The InspirEngage programmes will include Life Skills modules such as professional etiquette, creative communication skills and business development for the Middle East- these will be delivered by InspirEngage’s experienced Arab female trainers and myself- it’s an important step forward for a country which holds much talent amongst its female counterparts.”

We will be blogging on progress. In the meantime, you may be interested in reading latest blog from G8 Arab Women’s Summit here (

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