RIYADH: Official data reveals that Saudi Arabia’s efforts to achieve its employment goals as part of Vision 2023 have yielded positive outcomes. In the first quarter of 2023, the country’s unemployment rate decreased by 0.9 percentage points, reaching 5.1 percent, compared to the corresponding period in the previous year.
The labor force participation of Saudis experienced a yearly increase of 2.3 percentage points in the first quarter, as per the most recent report from the General Authority for Statistics. There was a 2.9 percentage point increase in the employment-to-population ratio.
The Vision 2030 plan aimed to decrease the unemployment rate from 11.6 percent in 2016 to 7 percent by 2030.
The reduction of oil dependence is a crucial aspect of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious economic plan, which emphasizes the importance of job creation for Saudi nationals. Over 60 percent of the population under the age of 35 is targeted for employment opportunities.
The GASTAT report indicates that there is a growing trend of increased workforce participation among female citizens.
In the first quarter of 2023, there was a 2.4 percentage point increase in the labor force participation rate of Saudi females compared to the previous year. This brought the participation rate to 36 percent, which remained the same as the last quarter of 2022.
On the other hand, there was a rise in the unemployment rate for Saudi males, reaching 4.6 percent. This represents a 0.4 percentage point increase from the previous quarter, but a 0.5 percentage point decrease compared to the corresponding period last year.
The percentage of Saudi males in the labor force and the percentage of employed Saudi males both saw a slight decline. The labor force participation rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points to 68.3 percent, while the employment-to-population ratio dropped by 0.5 percentage points to 65.2 percent.
According to the GASTAT report, there was a 1.6 percentage point decrease in the employment rate among Saudis during the first quarter of 2023, in comparison to the corresponding period in the previous year.
In the first quarter of 2023, there was a 0.3 percentage point increase in the overall unemployment rate in the Kingdom, encompassing both Saudis and non-Saudis, when compared to the same period last year.
In the fourth quarter of 2022, the Kingdom experienced a record low unemployment rate of 8 percent.
In the first quarter of 2023, the unemployment rate of Saudis increased by 0.5 percentage points to reach 8.5 percent, compared to the fourth quarter of 2022. Similarly, the labor force participation of Saudis declined to 52.4 percent during this period.
Diversifying the Kingdom’s economy is a key objective of Vision 2030, with the expansion of the non-oil private sector playing a vital role in achieving this goal.
According to the report, a significant majority of 94.1 percent of unemployed Saudis expressed their willingness to work in the private sector. Throughout history, Saudi citizens have predominantly found employment in the public sector.
According to the report, it was found that 55.5 percent of unemployed Saudi women and 45 percent of unemployed Saudi men are willing to commute for up to one hour to reach their workplace.
Additionally, it was found that 74.7 percent of Saudi females who were unemployed and 88.6 percent of Saudi males who were unemployed expressed their willingness to work for a duration of eight hours or longer each day.
During a June interview with Arab News, Grace Najjar, the regional managing director for the Middle East and North Africa region at the Project Management Institute, expressed optimism about job creation in the Kingdom. Najjar attributed this positive outlook to the rapid development of giga-projects in the country, which she believes will continue to gain momentum in the coming months.
Najjar predicts that there will be numerous job openings in Saudi Arabia’s construction sector, with a strong demand for skilled workers such as project managers, engineers, architects, and laborers.
Najjar stated that there are currently more than 5,200 projects being carried out in Saudi Arabia, with a total value of $819 billion. These projects account for 35 percent of all active project values in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
The construction industry will experience a high demand for skilled professionals such as project managers, engineers, architects, and skilled labor due to the large number of projects.
She stated, “Anticipated growth in demand is projected for the upcoming years, particularly due to the ongoing economic diversification efforts in Saudi Arabia and the entire GCC region.”
According to Najjar, the construction industry’s growth will open up new possibilities for Saudi nationals to consider.
Over the past few years, there has been a growing emphasis on nurturing local talent within Saudi Arabia, particularly in the construction industry. She added that the government has introduced various measures to enhance skills and generate job prospects for Saudi citizens, such as the National Transformation Program.
According to the recent Future Jobs report released by the World Economic Forum, it was highlighted that the job roles experiencing the most rapid growth in Saudi Arabia would be influenced by technology and digitization.
According to the report, there is a projected increase in demand for artificial intelligence and machine learning experts in Saudi Arabia due to the ongoing digital transformation of businesses.