The Saudi Ministry of Labour is researching a comprehensive plan aimed at recruiting more young Saudis into the workforce, according to Labour Minister Adel Faqih.
He discussed the concept during the Jeddah Economic Forum held March 3rd-6th.
The minister said workshops and training courses will be offered for young male and female entrepreneurs at small and medium enterprises to develop their skills and support their projects. The plan also includes developing a mechanism to offer government funding for labour development, crafting a clear vision of how to recruit more young Saudis into the workforce, and creating an atmosphere in which work opportunities are acceptable to all job seekers.
"There is a new approach to strengthening support for young people's projects and encouraging self-employment," Jamil al-Omari, a skills development advisor at the Jeddah Consulting Bureau, told Al-Shorfa.
He said there are several institutions, such as the Council of Saudi Chambers and the Chambers of Commerce, working on a comprehensive study that will include a number of workshops. The study will recommend a series of tasks that must be undertaken in order to increase the number of Saudis in the labour market and regulate the recruitment process.
Raising awareness about work and production values is very important, al-Omari added, especially because increasing employment opportunities in today's world is very different than it was years ago.
"What was applicable during the boom period is not suitable in the age of globalisation," he said. "If we only focus on job replacement, we will not be able to deal with unemployment because linking the problem of unemployment in Saudi Arabia to foreign labour is unlikely to lead to a solution."
He said a plan is needed to create new job opportunities within a suitable working atmosphere and expand training programmes and worker's qualifications.
As part of the initiative, Abdullah al-Hiqbani, deputy minister of labour for planning and development, said the ministry is seeking to Saudise three million jobs by 2025. Officials plan to address regulations governing contractual issues between the trainee and the labour fund during the training period.
Human resources expert Dr. Samir Hussain told Al-Shorfa the goal behind Saudisation is to create a climate where attractive work opportunities are available to male and female job applicants. He said another aim is to raise the standard of training and to design programmes that meet market demands so applicants can make a significant contribution to the economy.
"The kingdom wants to find a job for every individual," Hussain said, highlighting the importance of training and improving workers' qualifications.
He said there are currently vast changes within the Ministry of Labour and that these new trends are consistent with the ministry's ambitious development programmes.
"Labour […] that tends to focus on theoretical rather than actual performance has no place in today's world," Hussain said.
Young business professional Faiz Suleiman echoed Hussain's sentiment, saying it is important to establish a link between theoretical educational goals and job market demands.
"Universities are churning out a lot of graduates in theoretical fields, which means they are workers seeking jobs," he told Al-Shorfa. "The hope is that these graduates become workers that the job market needs."
"The latest royal decrees that include hiring women in commercial shops that cater exclusively to female shoppers staff has given a boost to efforts intended to create job opportunities, and tap into vast resources [female workers] that had been dormant before, pushing them into the job market," Suleiman said.
He said providing appropriate funding, such as loans for small enterprises and encouraging the issuance of licenses for specialised banks that will lend to small businesses, is also very important.