Unemployment highest in Madinah, Baha and Jouf


Saudi Gazette

– Decreasing the unemployment rate from 12.8 to 9 percent by 2020 requires filling over 471,000 jobs in the next couple of years, according to experts.

This suggests 157,000 new workers need to be employed annually, management consultancy Strategic Gears stated in its report ‘Summary of the major changes in the Labor Market in Q3’, released this month.

The third quarter of 2017 saw more than 745,000 unemployed Saudis, according to the General Authority for Statistics. The majority are youth and women with bachelor’s degrees and higher. Around 70 percent of them are between the ages of 20 and 29.

A drop in expat labor in the past year has not necessarily had a direct impact on the employment of Saudis, consultants have found. By the third quarter of 2017, around 128,000 expat workers had left while a mere 18,000 Saudi workers joined the labor force, of which 60 percent are females.

Construction is the most affected sector in terms of decreasing expat workers where 76,000 foreigners have left and 3,000 female Saudis were hired.

Several reasons have contributed to expatriates leaving jobs, such as the introduction of the expat levy and the national campaign for country without illegals, according to the analysis.

Matching Saudis with jobs has been a challenge during the past couple of years where the rate of unemployment has reached a peak of 12.8 percent in light of declining of oil prices and slowdown of the economy.

“I believe any policy regarding decreasing the unemployment rate should be developed in collaboration with the private sector,” says Hattan Saaty, managing partner at Strategic Gears. “A successful model is when government entities work with the private sector as the latter is able to come up with ideas that are more achievable on the ground. Otherwise, certain policies might fail because they’re incompatible or irrelevant.”

He added that several factors have contributed to unemployment such as unavailability of opportunities in certain regions, domination of expatriates in certain professions and graduates with degrees that are irrelevant to the labor market.

Some regions are considered “underdeveloped” than large cities in terms of opportunities available for job-seekers. The highest percentages of unemployment are found in Madinah, Baha and Jouf regions with an average rate of 24 percent.

In addition, “the majority of the private sector enterprises are micro entities that are less able to attract Saudis in terms of career paths,” says Saaty.

In terms of job seeking, statistics reveal the majority of women opt for government jobs compared to 20 percent of men applying to join civil service. The majority of men, 40 percent, prefer to directly contact employers.

Online applications is another form of applying to jobs practiced by 31 percent of females and 27 percent of males.