Humood Abu Talib
When statistics confirm that the unemployment rate of Saudi workers is increasing and the number of expatriate workers is also increasing, we are forced to ask the obvious question: why has this happened even though the relevant government bodies give the issue special focus?
We do not need experts to answer this question as lay people like us are able to work out the answer – the way this issue has been handled must be wrong because it is clear that the plans and solutions provided so far have not been successful in resolving this matter.
A recent report issued by the Ministry of Economy and Planning contains shocking information that should attract the attention of senior officials. The report indicates that the private sector has failed to create enough job opportunities for highly-skilled and educated Saudis. In fact, most jobs in the sector are for low-skilled workers who can be recruited from foreign countries. By 2014, the Kingdom’s unemployment rate hit 19.4 percent, which is one of the highest in the world. The unemployment rate for Saudi men was 12.1 percent and for Saudi women it was 32 percent. For years, we have been trying to figure out what the Ministry of Economy and Planning is doing. Does it coordinate with other government agencies that deal with manpower and employment?
The contents of this report force us to ask the Ministry of Labor to tell us about all of the programs that it has implemented and spoken about over the past year, claiming that hundreds and thousands of job opportunities have been created for Saudi men and women.
We can be sure that the number of expatriate workers in the Kingdom has not decreased. Foreigners violating the Kingdom’s residency regulations can still be seen on our streets despite the threats of the relevant government departments to impose strict penalties. What this tells us is that there are thousands of ways to circumvent our systems.
Unemployment has been on the increase and needs urgent and drastic solutions. Making statements about the issue in the media will not make the problem go away. On the contrary, it will only get worse.