The private sector and job opportunities


Al-Riyadh newspaper

IN a recent statement, Minister of Labor and Social Development Ali Al-Ghafis pointed out that about 85 percent of expatriates who work in the Kingdom’s private sector have only secondary school education or below.

The information may not be new, as the Labor Ministry had stated this in its previous reports.

This is a major issue that demands serious discussion and analysis.

Indeed 85 percent is a big number and we believe it will have a negative impact on the private sector itself as well as the Kingdom’s drive to nationalize jobs. It also renews the debate on the need to harmonize the relationship between academic courses and job market requirements.

About 85 percent of foreign workers in the private sector hold poor academic qualifications. This means their performance will also be poor. At the same time, it gives us an idea about the structure of the labor force in the private sector and its ramifications.

There is another study that says 66 percent business firms in the Kingdom are for trade and contracting. This study helps us understand the reason for the presence of a large number of uneducated workers.

We know that the sectors of trade and contracting need unskilled workers and millions of foreigners with low academic qualifications work in these two sectors.

This huge number forces us to conclude that the outcome of academic programs in our educational institutions does not cope with the labor market requirements. If the vast majority of jobs in the private sector do not require high academic qualifications how can we blame our universities and colleges for producing graduates who do not meet the requirements of the job market?

How can we ensure jobs for those who have completed higher studies at reputable international universities under the Kingdom’s prestigious foreign scholarship program? Many of them complain that they don’t get suitable jobs in the private sector.

We have several universities that produce hundreds of thousands of graduates every year and they hold qualifications that are not required by the private sector.

Another important question is how can the private sector with these qualifications and standards realize the objectives of Vision 2030 and whether the private sector would be able to employ a large number of Saudi graduates.

These are important questions that demand answers.