Saudi families find most maids unskilled

Updated 27 August 2013
0

Saudi families find most maids unskilled

A study conducted by the King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue has revealed that 70 percent of those surveyed in the domestic workers sector lack suitable labor recruitment fees. The findings come at a time when the Ministry of Labor is looking at reducing prices for hiring domestic workers from abroad.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Labor Wednesday, agreements entered into between the ministry and a few countries mandated that they send domestic workers with required skills. Additionally, these workers should have no criminal record in their home country, should be well trained and well-informed about Saudi regulations. The ministry is working to expedite the arrival of these domestic workers to the Kingdom.
The survey also revealed that 69 percent of people feel that domestic workers in Saudi Arabia do not possess training to be able to work in Saudi homes. A survey on domestic workers in Saudi homes showed that Saudi households prefer workers from Indonesia, with 27.5 percent of respondents seeing Indonesians as ideal domestic workers and another 17.3 percent viewing Filipinos as best suited to work in Saudi society.
“Indonesian maids usually speak Arabic, which makes it easier to communicate and teach them,” according to Bayan Rashid, a stay-at-home mother. “Indonesian maids are Muslim, so we share the same traditions and beliefs. This makes it particularly easy for us to trust them with our children and our homes because they are raised to be respectful and loyal to other Muslims.”
The study also revealed a lack of trust among community members toward the level of training provided to domestic workers prior to their arrival at the Kingdom, with 69 percent stating they were dissatisfied by the training provided to workers, while only 18 percent of people believe that domestic workers are trained well enough to efficiently carry out duties.
“They are clueless; they don’t know basic cleaning methods,” said Lamya Hammad, a stay-at-home-mother.
“As soon as we receive a new maid, I know I will have to spend at least three months teaching her how to clean and cook. I sometimes wonder how she's even called a maid when she doesn’t know how to be one,” she added.
The study ensured covering a diverse array of respondents in terms of region, gender, education level, age, and number of family members.
In all, 1,000 people were surveyed as representatives of the majority of society. Participants stressed the impact of domestic workers on the education of children in the family, indicating the dangerous impact of youth employment and the impact of such employment on the habits and behavior of the community in future.
Seventy-six percent of respondents agreed that domestic workers had a huge impact on raising children and 70 percent of participants expressed that the majority of Saudi families have become too reliant on household workers, while 46 percent attributed this increased use of household labor to increase in the number of housewives going to work. About 23 percent of participants felt the large size of Saudi families was also one of the reasons for hiring house-help.
“Many Saudi families trust their maids and nannies with their children and leave them alone for hours. Little do they know that those maids are capable of teaching the children bad habits and words that is not acceptable in our religion and our society,” said psychologist Huda Hussien.
“Parents should know better than leave their children with strangers, because maids are supposed to help the mother and not be the mother,” she added.
Around 42 percent of respondents were neutral in their views about the improvement of recruitment companies, as they felt they did not have enough information to agree or disagree, while 20 percent saw that recruitment fees are somewhat acceptable and 57 percent responded that salaries of domestic workers were given on time and without delay.
Thirty-one percent of respondents felt housemaids were deprived of their one-day weekly off.
Ethiopian maids are the least favored among Saudis after the series of incidents reported in local media, according to Abu Omar, a manager at a recruitment office in Jeddah.
“Saudis have stopped requesting maids from Ethiopia in the last three months after hearing about the disturbing incidents that have been filling the newspapers,” he said.
“We also have people returning their maids to the office asking us to take them back in exchange for maids from other countries,” he added.
The King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue has allocated an exclusive unit to conduct such surveys at the headquarters of the center. The center frequently launches and conducts such polls, seeing that they are crucial in measuring public opinion and views about issues that affect society and that are of interest to community members.


How Saudi women are getting ahead of men as STEM graduates

Dr. Fatima Alakeel, cybersecurity expert. (AN photo)
Updated 20 March 2019
0

How Saudi women are getting ahead of men as STEM graduates

  • ‘Securing a job after the degree remains the challenge,’ says Dr. Fatema Alakeel of King Saud University in Riyadh
  • ‘Saudi women are ambitious,’ says one graduate. ‘We are acquiring high degrees and seeking successful careers’

DUBAI: More and more girls in Saudi Arabia are opting for an education in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), and now the challenge is finding them employment, said Dr. Fatima Alakeel, a cybersecurity expert and faculty member at King Saud University (KSU) in Riyadh.
“In the Kingdom, STEM-related jobs are limited at the moment, as the economy is primarily oil-based and there are few technical jobs available,” said Alakeel, who is also the founder and CEO of the non-profit Confidentiality, Integrity & Availability Group (CIAG), which focuses on information security training and research in Riyadh.
According to a government report on the labor market situation in the third quarter of 2018, more than 30 percent of Saudi women aged between 15 and 65 are unemployed.
Among them, the highest rate of unemployment is among 20-24-year-olds (more than 70 percent) and among 25-29-year-olds (55 percent).
According to the report, there are 923,504 Saudi jobseekers, of whom 765,378 are women (82.2 percent).
“We have more girls in STEM education compared to Western countries,” said Alakeel, who completed her doctoral degree in computer science in the UK at the University of Southampton in 2017.
According to a report prepared by the Saudi Education Ministry, girls accounted for 57 percent of undergraduates for the year 2015-2016 in the Kingdom.
That same year, women outnumbered men in graduating with a bachelor’s in biology, information technology (IT), mathematics and statistics, and physics.
According to a survey Alakeel recently conducted on social media, “almost 80 percent of (Saudi) girls were keen to study STEM, but securing a job after the degree remains the challenge,” she said.
Maha Al-Taleb, 22, graduated earlier this year with a degree in technology from KSU, specializing in IT networks and security.
“It’s common for girls in the Kingdom to opt for STEM education,” said Al-Taleb, who now works in a public sector company in Riyadh as a junior information security analyst.
“Saudi women are ambitious. We’re acquiring high degrees and seeking successful careers. I don’t know why the world assumes that Saudi women are a backward tribal species who have no say in these matters. This entire perception is flawed.”
Al-Taleb got a job offer immediately after university, but realizes that not all her peers are as fortunate. Women “are facing problems in securing jobs, not because companies don’t want to hire us, but because employment for Saudi youths is a major challenge,” she said.
“In today’s Saudi Arabia, parents are encouraging their daughters to get a degree not just in the Kingdom; they also want them to go to Western universities. It has become a common phenomenon. Things have changed. Women are a crucial part of the nation’s development process.”
Not all women graduating in the Kingdom are as lucky, among them Razan Al-Qahtani. “It has been several months since I graduated, yet I haven’t been able to find a job. It has been a struggle so far,” said the 25-year-old IT graduate. “We have more talented and qualified girls, especially in the field of technology, but there are few jobs available. It’s a difficult situation, but we’re hopeful things will change very soon.”
Al-Qahtani expressed confidence that the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan will bring opportunities for qualified Saudis.
As part of Vision 2030, the government has committed to raise employment among Saudi women.
Alakeel said the government is working hard to find a solution, and it is only a matter of time until more such jobs are on offer.
“As per Vision 2030, there will be more jobs, including technical jobs, available in the country. Once we have more jobs, women will eventually get their due share,” she added. According to Alakeel, female empowerment and promotion to leading roles have made huge progress in Saudi Arabia, and this may affect existing STEM job opportunities.
“We’re glad to see Her Royal Highness Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud becoming the first female ambassador of the country. It only suggests change is on the way,” Alakeel said.
Al-Taleb expressed pride in the way her parents have supported her, saying: “My father isn’t educated and my mother has basic literacy, but both provided me with the education I desired. They want their daughters to be as successful as their sons.”
Like women in any country, the transition from university to the workplace is not always easy, even for young Saudi women with technology degrees. Yet they are not losing hope.
“We realize these are difficult times in terms of employment, especially in technology-related fields, but things will change,” Al-Taleb said. “Saudi women will soon be ruling the fields of STEM all over the country.”