Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Massive Support for Public Sector Decreases Unemployment rates in Saudi Arabia | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- According to some economists, the royal decree to increase public sector wages will decrease the rate of unemployment and increase public spending on training and development programs.

At the beginning of August, the Ministry of Labor had declared that the number of vacant jobs in Saudi Arabia exceeds that of job seekers. It also praised the efforts of the ministry and the training and development programs, which contributed to employing large numbers of job seekers.

General Manager of the fund for human resource development, Dr. Mohammed Al-Sahlawy told Asharq Al-Awsat that the recent royal decree would support economic activity and in turn increase the demand for labor and provide more jobs for Saudis. He added that supporting other activities in the kingdom would have a positive effect in increasing job opportunities for the unemployed.

In the interest of society, economists predict that the increase of job opportunities would decrease crime rates in Saudi Arabia, which remain the lowest internationally. Moreover, according to authorized studies, the reasons for this level are not associated to unemployment. A study confirms that most of those involved in stealing cars are under 18 years of age and are either students or unemployed. The study estimated that the majority of those who steal cars in Riyadh are students, while the unemployed make up only one third of the total. They resorted to stealing for specific reasons such as joy riding or simply seeking to impress others.

Concerning raising individual income, in a report presented during the international conference for terrorism in February 2005, the Interior ministry referred to a link between the distribution of drugs, the increase of incomes, and population growth rate.

Government funding was also allocated to sectors that are concerned with creating job opportunities for Saudis. Consequently, such funding is expected to hasten the decrease of unemployment rates as previous figures indicate that the departments concerned helped to provide over 12,000 people with jobs. This in turn raised employment rates to 3000 people a week, which is about 78% of the total of registered job seekers. Employing Saudi Arabians in place of foreign workers in the sectors of youth and media programs has also increased from 46% to 49%, and to 48% in the social services sector.

In public education, jobs were nationalized from 44% to 63%, while in the communication and postal services sector nationalization increased from 29% to 55%. In the commercial sector, the expected increase is between 25% and 34 % and a similar predicted increase is to range from 25% to 33%.

The health sector has nationalized its jobs at about 20% whereas the agriculture, consultancy, legal, energy, and transportation sectors are the least nationalized due to the limited number of establishments. The increase in nationalization rates are attributed to granting fewer visas for foreign laborers to work in private establishments by 53%, in addition to limiting employment in certain jobs to Saudi citizens only.

Moreover, as the prices of oil increased last year, the government allocated 9 billion Saudi Riyals to technical and vocational training programs over the next five years. At the same time, statistics revealed by the Public Institution for Technical and vocational training indicated a 16% increase in the number of students to that field during the 2003, compared to the previous year. The number of graduates also increased by 26.3%, trainees increased by 0.3 % and by 10% on an individual level.

As for nationalization rates in the sectors of training and teaching, they soared to reach 74.4% in technical education and to 93.6% for vocational training.

Administrative positions filled by Saudis reached 96.1% in the technical sector and 89.1% in the vocational training sector. The number of participants in the specialized training sector increased by an average rate of annual growth of 4% while graduates increased by 4.5%. Meanwhile, Saudis formed 44.6% percent of specialized training staff, and 42.1% of administration as well as the full percentage of nationalization in administration departments.