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Business & Economy

Scholarships to upgrade skills of Saudi work force

The extension of the King Abdullah Scholarship to a further five-year period will boost the Saudization program by developing local human resources, according to Said Al-Shaikh, senior vice president and group chief economist of the National Commercial Bank (NCB).
Al-Shaikh was speaking at the launch of the Business Optimism Index (OPI) — Saudi Arabia Q1 by Dun & Bradstreet SAME Ltd. at the NCB headquarters in Riyadh.
Rohan Nagpal, general manager of Dun & Bradstreet SAME Ltd., presented the OPI, while Al-Shaikh made his comments and answered questions from the press.
“Availability of skilled labor is the leading concern for both the hydrocarbon and non-hydrocarbon sector businesses,” Al-Shaikh said.
He said vital sectors such as health, banking and IT could employ skilled nationals.
Nagpal commended the initiatives taken by the Saudi government to develop the skills of the local youths.
The government is keen to promote education at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
He also said that such education should be linked to the local industry so that the demand for skilled youth could be supplied to the job market.
The BOI survey revealed that Saudi Arabia’s hydrocarbon sector optimism has improved in Q1 2013 as all parameters have gained from the previous quarter’s level.
The BOI for level of selling prices has gained 8 points to 13 in Q1 2013 compared to 5 in Q4 2012.
The BOI for the net profits stands at 58, which is 10 points above the score in Q4 2012. The hiring outlook of the sector has also improved; the BOI for the number of employees parameter has gained 7 points to 47 in Q1 2013.
In terms of factors impacting business operations, sentiments have improved in the current quarter when compared to the previous quarter.
According to BOI, the Kingdom’s real GDP growth during 2012 was 6.8 percent, supported by a 7.6 percent growth in manufacturing, 10.3 percent in construction, 8.3 percent in the trade and hospitality sector, 10.7 percent in transport and communications and 4.4 percent in the finance, insurance, real estate and business services segment.
“Aggressive public sector expenditure remains an important growth catalyst for Saudi Arabia, especially the construction sector, with billions of dollars in contracts awarded by the government. The transport sector is also booming, especially rail infrastructure — with projects worth $ 24 billion in the pipeline,” the report said.
The survey also revealed strong optimism levels for the nonhydrocarbon sector businesses in Q1 2013.
The composite BOI for the nonhydrocarbon sector stands at 55 compared to 47 in Q4
2012 and all six parameters have recorded an improvement.
The transport and communications sector holds the least optimistic outlook for Q1 2013.

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