By Abed Khazindar
“Are there any jobs for them?” I asked in a recent column wondering about the 7,000 female graduates of King Abdul Aziz University.
“It depends on what they specialize in, and if their subject of specialization is in demand in the labor market,” I said answering my own question.
I, however, did not mention in the column what fields of specialization are in demand.
Based on my experience, most companies in our country deal with the import, service and retail industries. Such companies are not in need of accountants, secretaries or salespersons, because these jobs are occupied by highly-efficient expatriates working for low salaries. Moreover, these jobs need more than a university degree. They require experience and practice. I don’t believe our young women are fit for these jobs.
However, there are already quite a few Saudi women working as saleswomen and cashiers, but their salaries are low and such jobs do not require a university degree.
Banks are a good alternative, as they can hire and train Saudi female graduates, provided the graduates have degrees in the fields of management and accountancy. However, even banks can only employ a limited number of Saudi women.
The other option is seeking employment in factories. But most of our factories are primitive and do not use advanced technology, except for SABIC and a few others. The truth is that unfortunately there is little room for female graduates in these factories, and those who work there may have a future which is not secure.
So I wonder about the fate of the thousands of young Saudi women who graduate each year from universities in the Kingdom. If there are no jobs for them in cities, what hope do they have to find employment in the nation’s smaller towns and villages?
One solution is for Saudi women to enter the fields of science and technology. Following the example of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other institutes of learning in the US, our universities must specialize in the fields of technology.
The other remaining option is employment in the field of tourism, which is still undeveloped in the Kingdom and which in future may be able to employ a large number of women.
After 50 years of female education in this country, it is appalling to note that there are no proper job opportunities for women, except in the field of education, which has already reached its saturation point.