By Rashed Al-Fawzan
THE number of women who have reached working age in the Kingdom is now 5.9 million, according to Ruqaya Al-Abdullah, director of women’s work development in the Ministry of Labor.
The number of women who work is 706,000 out of the 5.9 million who have reached the working age, according to Al-Abdullah.
This means one thing: 88 percent are jobless. Given the amount of money the government has spent on educating these women, why is the rate of unemployment so high?
I can think of one principal reason – the lack of feasible career options because there is a huge disconnect between the skills of new graduates and the jobs available for them.
Although women have surpassed their male counterparts in terms of academic standards, many of them could not study what they wanted. Many were forced to choose a science that is not in demand in the labor market. Our country needs to plan effectively for the future by ensuring we utilize the capabilities of our young men and women in the right way.
At the strategic level, we need to close some academic departments and open new ones in line with the needs of the market. We need to shift our focus on professional services – the medical profession, accounting, management and retail.
We must build intellectual equity before constructing fancy buildings. We have nine million expatriates while our youth are jobless because we did not create the right educational opportunities for them. If we do not invest in them correctly, we will continue squandering our money, and ultimately our future prosperity.