Providing job opportunities to hundreds of thousands of unemployed Saudis is a major challenge for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who oversees the economic policy of the world’s largest oil exporter, in which unemployment is 12 percent.
The Saudi News Agency quoted the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Ahmed bin Suleiman Al-Rajhi as saying that the move will help boost the income of young Saudis.
The Kingdom has faced difficulties for years to create jobs for its citizens, as private sector companies rely on cheap foreign labor while the educational system does not adequately qualify students for the labor market. Many Saudis prefer high-paying public sector jobs.
The Ministry of Human Resources previously limited employment in a number of retail and sub-sectors to Saudis, as in stores selling furniture, auto components, watches, eyewear, and sweets.
In 2011 it launched the “Nitaqat” program, which encourages companies to hire Saudis instead of foreign workers. Companies that employ high percentages of Saudis receive preferential treatment in processing work permits.
However, the program was relatively slow, as unemployment among Saudis fell slightly to record 12 percent at the end of 2019, from a record near 13 percent in 2018.
The government aims to create 1.2 million jobs for Saudi citizens by 2022 and reduce the unemployment rate to nine percent by then and to seven percent by 2030.
Marwa Rashad press coverage – Prepared by Ahmed Elhamy for the Arabic Bulletin