JEDDAH: Young Saudis need educating about risk-taking in seeking work or starting a business, and linking this to traditions, values and aspirations can help remove some of the stigma and reluctance around risk-taking, a virtual conference on Monday heard.
What is perceived to be ‘a good job,' or ‘a bad job' is evolving in society all the time, the Good Jobs and Bad Jobs”: Employment Attitudes, Perceptions and Priorities in Saudi Arabia virtual conference hosted by King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies heard.
The perception of good and bad jobs are influenced by social factors such as educational background or socioeconomic class or gender, according to Dr. Mark Thomspon, senior research fellow and head of the socio economic unit at the center, who Dr. conducted research and focus groups with Hanaa Al-Moaibed, research fellow at the center.
Between the younger and older generation, the research showed that a common factor is risk taking.
“Older interviewees talked about leaving their families from a very young age and moving somewhere where there was an economic opportunity and there’s great risk in that,” said Al-Moaibed.
She explained there is a risk that one might not come home, and there is also a risk that one might fail there and not be able to send back remittances, which was for many the purpose of taking the risk.
“There’s also a risk that you get to wherever it was that you were going and you wouldn’t find anybody that wanted to partner with you and do business with you, whether it was traveling for a job or traveling to create business partnership in places like India,” she said.
“We know that there are many people who also consider the impact work has on their family life or social integration, and health. We’ve got historical or deep rooted perceptions of work. These can influence the way that people respond to job opportunities and which employment sectors they prefer,” said Thompson.
She added: “We are focusing so much on what young people are doing today. Linking it back to historical traditions and actual values and aspirations would probably then alleviate some of that stigma. It would really allow young people to fully understand that there is a great reward in taking risks.”
Thompson and Al-Moaibed conducted a series of interviews from July to October 2020 to look at variations in attitudes and priorities to work with reference to cultural factors including region of origin, access to education and employment opportunities.
They also conducted a multiple choice question survey online with approximately 700 respondents, around 70 percent of these were male and 30 percent female, “and this actually mirrors the official Saudi labor market statistics for the second quarter of 2020,” Thompson said.
He said: “This particular paper follows on previous research by both myself and Dr. Hanaa about employment attitudes in Saudi Arabia particularly amongst young people. During my travels around the Kingdom doing research and focus groups, employment has always been a number one priority for young Saudis.”