RIYADH: Despite the presence of dozens of organizations and official bodies offering work to visitors at the Saudi Job Expo, young Saudis maintain that the quickest and easiest way to find employment in the public or private sector is through “wasta” – influential contacts.
Al-Hayat Arabic daily reported that two Saudi job-seekers at the Riyadh event on its final day Monday were in search of Ministry of Labor representatives to present a complaint over their failure to find work.
“We both have university degrees with excellent grades but have not been able to find the work that will grant us a dignified life,” they said. “The reason there aren’t any jobs available is because of wasta.”
Sa’ad Al-Asiri, who holds a degree in computer engineering, said that he had still not found a single job offer since he graduated from King Saud University a year ago. “I swear I’m prepared to work anywhere, even without pay,” he told Al-Hayat. “I’m tired of the way I’m looked at by society, and also no one will marry me in my present circumstances.”
Abdullah Al-Qarni, who has a degree in electrical engineering, said that he had approached “numerous” companies at the expo, but was still not confident of finding work.
“I’ve had several previous experiences with companies, but they’ve never called back,” he said. “If I knew one of the representatives well, however, then I’d get a job straight away.”
Abdul Wahid Al-Humayyed, Deputy Minister of Labor, who opened the expo with a speech citing unemployment statistics in the Kingdom, recognized that unemployment is affected by “certain social factors”.
“That’s why the leadership is so concerned to provide jobs for Saudis, and why it has become one of the top priorities for the nation and why the recent Royal Decrees ordered the provision of job opportunities for Saudis in the government and private sectors, and that the issues blocking their access to the job market be addressed,” he said.
Chief organizer of the Saudi Job Expo Abdullah Al-Shaddadi said that some 10,000 job opportunities were made available to Saudis of both sexes at the event.
“There were over 100 stalls and wings representing numerous companies and organizations, all working to provide jobs to Saudis,” he told Al-Hayat. “They hired persons visiting on the spot.”
During his opening speech on Sunday, Al-Humayyed said that unemployment in Saudi Arabia stood at 28.4 percent for women and 6.9 percent for males, and he described the search for work as “not just a personal quest for a dignified life… but a national interest”.
“Finding work for male and female Saudis has a positive effect on the national economy,” he said. “Their income goes back into the domestic economy, and that provides more investment and jobs and income, and in turn moves the economy forward toward prosperity and competition.”
– Okaz/Saudi Gazette