Best time for Saudi youths to enter the job market
I have been working in the field of human resources (HR) for 18 years, yet I have never been as excited as I am today, because of the great number of superior job opportunities available to Saudi youths. I have also noticed an increase in the number of Saudi-based job applicants holding prestigious positions in the Kingdom’s job market.
In the past, non-Saudi applicants from outside the Kingdom outnumbered their Saudi counterparts, but the situation is different today. As a specialist in matching the qualifications of job applicants with the requirements of executive positions, I believe that this trend proves that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Overseas Scholarship Program has indeed borne fruit.
Investing in Saudi talents studying abroad is now an advantage, which is good news for the development of our country and the prosperity of future generations. We are clearly witnessing a positive return from every student we sent abroad to learn from the finest colleges in the world.
Market analysts estimate that Saudization rates will continue to rise in small and medium enterprises due to the return of Saudis from abroad, which will provide more opportunities for youths to compete for leadership positions in the private sector.
By wisely choosing to prioritize education and enabling youths to study abroad, we are giving thousands of them the opportunity to gain the expertise needed to compete in the Saudi job market. While we cannot guarantee the availability of job opportunities for these students after studying abroad and coming home, evidence indicates that their chances of getting superior jobs are quite great.
As an HR specialist, my advice to any young person planning on getting a scholarship is to first ask about the nature of the jobs linked to the degree they want before embarking on this long educational journey far away from home.
I always assure future thinkers that some doctoral degrees are not necessarily attractive to employers compared to bachelor’s and master’s degrees, so Saudi youths should think about the specialization that will impress employers in order to successfully compete in the Kingdom’s job market.
I would like to emphasize that students should do a thorough examination of emerging trends in the business sector before choosing what to study abroad. Real estate and logistics services are examples of good areas of study, since current demand for individuals specialized in these fields exceeds the number of job applicants.
Similarly, specializing in cybersecurity or a degree related to programming, information sciences or computer engineering will prepare graduates for a successful career path and provide them with several job opportunities in the Kingdom. However, the same cannot be said about other specializations such as arts and general degrees, which — despite their importance — are not specialized enough to meet the demands of the job market.
The increase in the number of qualified Saudi job applicants indicates that more generations will benefit as a direct result of the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 reform plan, and that the phrase “Saudi youths are incapable of working” is a baseless misconception.
I have noticed how the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Overseas Scholarship Program has changed the Saudi job market and tipped the scales in favor of Saudi candidates. In addition, the return of more scholars with high accreditations from international universities will yield fruitful results in the long run.
The scholarship program was launched more than a decade ago and is a pivotal system in the Kingdom’s journey toward a knowledge-based economy as 2.5 percent of the Saudi budget is allocated to supporting it. In fact, it is an investment in Saudi youths and a source of pride for all Saudis, not to mention an unprecedented global achievement.
Since the launch of the program in 2005, the number of beneficiaries has exceeded 200,000 students, and there is strong evidence of the direct impact of overseas scholarships on the Saudi economy. Statistics show that nearly one-third of students with scholarships will enter the job market with scientific and technical qualifications, and are expected to become key contributors to the Kingdom’s advancement in the future.
Before hiring any candidate, I first identify the qualifications and leadership skills that qualify them to compete for the role. In my professional opinion, the only thing standing in the way of Saudi students returning from abroad and seeking suitable jobs in the Kingdom is their lack of expertise compared to their doctoral degrees.
Nevertheless, the good news is that there are more opportunities enabling these youths to gain the expertise they need to hold important positions in the business and education sectors, and companies here are ready to further accommodate Saudi nationals.
My advice to those coming back home and seeking a successful career is to focus on joining a company that is able to develop their capabilities and equip them with practical experience relevant to their career path. As is the case with any other journey in life, every individual must exert all his or her efforts to reach their goal; the job market is no different.
Amro Kandil is senior vice president of human resources at SEDCO Holding.