What's keeping Saudi youth from working in the private sector? It's exactly what you think it is
Why do Saudis shun jobs in the private sector? Long working hours compared to government jobs, the generally low or modest salaries, one day weekly off, lack of transportation and the different workplace environment compared to the government sector.
These five factors stand in the way of Saudis thinking of taking up employment in the private sector were revealed in a recent research and survey conducted by the Central Department of Statistics and Information (CDSI). The study also showed a drop in the level of unemployment among Saudis at 11.5 percent in 2013 compared to 12 percent in 2012.
The labor force survey released by the CDSI in June 2013 revealed that the total labor force in the age group 15 years and above represented 54 percent of the entire population. The survey also showed that nearly two-thirds of Saudi labor force was in the age group of 20-39 with males accounting for 65.5 percent.
On the working hours, the survey said the average weekly working hours totaled 49.1 hours with the figure differing according to the vocation or economic activity. On the other hand, the highest weekly average of 59.9 hours was recorded in industrial, chemical and food production jobs compared to the lowest weekly rate of 39.4 hours in technical, scientific and humanitarian occupations.
Males averaged a weekly rate of 49.2 hours compared to the highest of 60.7 hours. Teaching jobs marked the lowest rate of 35.6 weekly working hours.
Saeed Al-Amri, a fresh computer teacher, said he applied for around 13 different jobs in the private sector after his graduation from the King Abdul Aziz University. “Most of the job offers were below my expectations and didn’t match my BA degree either in terms of working hours or salary. I had to spend around nine hours a day in one company for a lump-sum monthly salary of around SR5,000 including all fringe benefits,” said Al-Amri.
“I started at a salary of SR8,000 on my first day of teaching at the Ministry of Education for only six hours work a week,” he added.
Salwa Mehairi, a clerk at a governmental hospital, said she used to work for a private polyclinic for a modest monthly payment of SR3,000 with no means of transportation. “I had to spend 45 minutes daily commuting from home to the hospital costing SR1,500 paid from my pocket. Moreover, I had to work more than 9 hours on rush and busy days, especially at weekends. I got just a day as weekly off and I had to work half day on Thursdays before the new holiday regulations of Friday and Saturday came into effect,” she said.
The survey results showed that Saudi males employed in public administration, defense and social security accounted for the most at 43.5 percent followed by teaching jobs at 15.1 percent.
As for Saudi females, nearly three-quarters (71.7 percent) of them work in the education sector followed by those who work in health sector and social activities at 11.7 percent.
The survey report pointed out that Saudis in the age group of 20-24 accounted for the highest rate of unemployment at 38.1 percent with males representing 47.2 percent and women 42 percent.
The survey also revealed those holding BA degree accounted for the highest rate of unemployment at 48.2 percent followed by high school graduates at 32.9 percent.
Saudi women holding BA degrees accounted for 71.2 percent of women unemployed followed by 18.7 percent among high school graduates.
The survey showed that there was lack of unemployment among PhD holders, both male and female.
Non-Saudi work force accounted for 76.9 percent of the total work population. The age group above 15 accounted for 99.8 percent of the total expats work force.
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