80% of unemployed Saudis prefer public sector jobs

New study suggests the private sector is still unattractive to Saudis despite government efforts

Four out of five unemployed Saudis would prefer work in the public sector due to job security, shorter working hours and longer annual holidays, according to a new study.

The report on the Riyadh workforce, published by Naif University for Security Sciences, found that only 20 per cent of Saudi’s would prefer employment in the private sector, according to local publication Arab News.

Furthermore 26 per cent of Saudi’s in the capital believe that rising unemployment in the country is due to a lack of appropriate job opportunities.

Nearly a fifth (18 per cent) cited insufficient experience in the country’s young workforce and 22 per cent blamed hiring practices based on connections and family links for the country’s unemployment numbers.

The country’s unemployment rate stood at 5.6 per cent in January.

Of those that took part in the survey, 37 per cent had no work experience and 63 per cent had some.

The main reason behind the unemployment of those with experience was found to be lower salaries (47.2 per cent), with long working hours (12 per cent), travel time to work (2 per cent) and a lack of experience (8.5 per cent) among the other reasons cited.

The kingdom has tried to increase employment through a number of initiatives including Hafiz, Nitaqat, Hadaf and Taqat. It has recently focused its efforts on employing nationals in the private sector by imposing quotas in certain sectors.

Under new rules, the workforce of companies in the mobile phone and accessories market must be 50 per cent Saudi by the beginning of Ramadan.

Read: Saudi steps up mobile shop inspections as deadline nears

Another recent plan will see women provided with transportation to get to work at subsidised prices to support the country’s growing female workforce, according to Arab News.

It cited Ministry of Labour undersecretary Abdul Munim Al-Shahri as saying the ministry would agree with owners of commercial stores to provide transportation to attract more women.