Despite the moribund state of the Lebanese economy, there is one sector that is experiencing phenomenal growth, reported the Daily Star. Companies providing computer training have been reported double-digit growth for several years already—a rare phenomenon in the country’s debt-bound market.
According to Edouard Baaklini, the general manager of the Lebanon branch for New Horizons—an international IT training chain—his operation has seen 30 percent year-to-year growth since 1996. Rania Mansour, the marketing manager of Formatech, a Beirut-based IT-consulting and training firm, has reported double-digit annual growth for the company ever since it was founded, six years ago.
Both New Horizons and Formatech are certified education centers for Microsoft products, as well as for other IT multi-nationals, and between them operate close to 300 training PCs in 23 classrooms, all located in the metropolitan area of the Lebanese capital, Beirut.
Baaklini would not give the Daily Star a sales figure for New Horizons in Lebanon, but noted that 24,000 courses were given in 1999 and were attended by over 6,000 students. Course lengths vary from 6 to 35 hours. Furthermore, he added, the average training budget of a corporate customer in Lebanon amounts to 10 percent of its IT budget. This, he said, compares favorably to the global standard.
One of the demands made by many of the students, Mansour stated, is that the courses they do are certified internationally, meaning that the skills they receive are recognized both in Lebanon and abroad.
Both New Horizons and Formatech are looking to extend their services outside of the Beirut area. New Horizons is currently supplying trainers to a center in Saida and one at Tripoli’s chamber of commerce.
IT training could provide a boost to Lebanon’s industry, Baaklini said, noting that the average course price locally is 25 to 30 percent of the price asked for an equivalent course delivered in the United States or Europe. — (Albawaba-MEBG)
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