Unemployment high in rural areas, says study


Saudi Gazette report

— The majority of jobless Saudis live in villages and small cities, according to a recent study conducted by Naif University of Security Sciences in Riyadh.

A total of 260 employees of the Interior Ministry and Labor and Social Development Ministry took part in the study.

Refusal to work in major cities and the lack of job opportunities for women are the two main reasons for unemployment in the Kingdom, the study said. The dependence of private companies and individual employers on foreign workers is another important reason.

The study, titled "The Impact of Unemployment on Social Security," was conducted by researcher Mohammed Al-Aufi.

"Many Saudis are not interested to work in the private sector because of low salaries. The culture of shame also played a role. Most Saudis refuse to take up menial jobs as they fear it would affect their image in society," Al-Watan Arabic daily reported quoting Al-Aufi.

The study found that the degrees and educational qualifications obtained by Saudis do not cope with job market requirements. Many Saudis are not interested in work and depend on state allowances and family wealth for their expenses.

"The number of Saudi graduates has exceeded the number of employees required by the job market," Al-Aufi pointed out. "Moreover, most young men and women living in villages and small cities are not ready to move to major cities to take up available jobs," he added.

He said unemployment would affect the social fabric, damage the family structure, delay marriages and encourage people to migrate from rural areas to big cities.

The study was based on information provided by 200 police officers in Riyadh as well as 60 Labor Ministry officials directly linked with unemployment. These officers praised the government's efforts to eradicate unemployment by preparing the private sector to employ Saudis.

The study emphasized the need to expand the Saudization program, establish institutions to train Saudis to take up various jobs including handicrafts. It also called for more studies on the reasons for unemployment among Saudis and ways to solve the problem.

The study called for the synchronization of academic syllabus with job market requirements and highlighted the social impact of unemployment such as thefts, burglary and other crimes. Disintegration of families, intellectual deviation and the desire to take revenge against society are other negative results of unemployment, the study pointed out.

The unemployment rate among young Saudis is estimated at 35.1 percent and among women 46.6 percent, Al-Watan said quoting the study.

About 34.6 percent of unemployment was caused by poor distribution of jobs among small cities and villages.

The ratio of the jobless Saudis in villages and small cities reached 17.3 percent, unemployment in major cities 15.7 percent, and unemployment among university graduates 15.7 percent.

The study pointed out that degrees of 35.6 percent of Saudi graduates do not cope with job market needs.

The study stressed the need to increase salary levels in the private sector and ensure job security to encourage Saudis to take jobs in private companies and establishments.

Administrative corruption is another factor that stands in the way of the fight against unemployment, the study pointed out.