Students require career education, advice and planning. They need to be provided with activities which utilize their existing knowledge, while enhancing their comprehension and stimulating their personal skills and capabilities. Students can therefore be pushed to discover, evaluate and apply new horizons and explore new fields of knowledge. Life consists of choices just waiting to be made and students need to be made aware of these choices.
Such awareness and activities can be promoted through a national career education program. However, currently no such program exists in Saudi Arabia. As a result, students are unaware of their career options, there tends to be a mismatch between students’ education & their passion/skills and between market demand/growth & educational output, and there is also a lack of the stimulation required for student development in this area.
This was the challenge that HRDF approached us with. In light of these circumstances, they wanted us to address career education and development for Saudi students in line with Vision 2030 of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Vision 2030 aims to tackle this issue by investing in human capital, as a result of which citizens’ capabilities can be enhanced, enabling them to identify opportunities leading to better and brighter futures for themselves.
Consequently, using a human-centered design approach, we developed Mihan, Riyada, and Irshad; in-class simulation game boxes to be played by 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students respectively during Career Week at their schools. The game boxes were designed to provide young Saudi students with new aspects of career knowledge. They could therefore enhance their life skills along with changing their mindsets, allowing them to realize how they can build their own future. Through these game boxes they could choose their career, build their career (through learning about start-ups and developing entrepreneurial skills), and give back through the development of mentorship-related skills.
Of all three games, Mihan has been implemented most widely thus far, since it is the first game in the series. We have designed Mihan to consist of various fun, easy-to-use, hands-on activities focusing on 4 learning outcomes and 10 competencies (developed by Subol (www.subol.sa)). Mihan is played over a single week: 5 days with 90 minutes per day. It aims to create awareness amongst students about different career options and how they can choose the right career; all while simultaneously considering the corresponding education choices which would facilitate the exploration of realistic future possibilities according to individual interests and capabilities.
We wanted Mihan to provide an open, supportive and intellectually stimulating environment in which student skills and competence are enhanced in areas such as decision-making, communication skills, leadership skills, self-confidence, constructive thinking and social interaction. We also wanted to ensure that Mihan takes into consideration the local context: exposing students to the careers which are relevant for the Saudi market while also engaging the private sector through company visits, provision of information relevant for specific careers, etc. Mihan achieves all these things and more: it even encourages students to face their challenges and provides them with an experience that empowers them to defend the career choices which they make for themselves.
Riyada and Irshad, on the other hand, help students to think about how to start-up their careers, and how to give back to help develop the careers of others respectively. Riyada is all about developing future entrepreneurs/career experts through inspiring start-up opportunities, building awareness of start-ups and career-related opportunities, enabling start-ups and develop entrepreneurial skills. Along the same lines, Irshad helps develop future mentors/subject matter experts through the identification of skill sets, building awareness of lifelong learning, enabling mentorship choices, and developing mentorship and knowledge sharing skills. Together Riyada and Irshad would therefore help students to become contributing members of the local economy who have an impact and potentially give back to industry.
Through Mihan, we have helped students become aware of new career options, have encouraged them to give greater importance to skills and practical experience, and have helped them realize how their families and friends can help them make better choices. In addition, we have helped students realize that their career choices should be based on their aptitude and passions, which we have helped them to discover. In fact, 76% of parents believed that Mihan had an impact on their child. In addition, the percentage of students choosing to get some work experience after finishing school increased to 24% from 11.5% as a result of playing Mihan. Similarly, the percentage of students planning to study traditional majors as part of their higher education decreased from 71% to 56% and the percentage of students who knew the difference between a career, profession and job increased to 74% from 58%.
“Amazing! The variety of activities helps meet the needs of students!”