Riyadh – Mubasher: Saudi government is struggling to keep unemployment in check, aiming at decreasing it by creating more jobs for nationals, pursuant to the crown prince’s, Mohammed bin Salman, so-called Vision 2030 to wean the kingdom’s economy off oil returns.
As the unemployment rate among Saudis increases to 12.9% while about 250,000 nationals enter the job market annually, the government has become so desperate about the possibility to achieve bin Salman’s 9% jobless rate in 2020.
This despair made some officials suggest the creation of 500,000 government jobs, which would be at odds with the crown prince's plan to cut public spending, informed sources told Bloomberg.
Among some ambitious goals covered in Vision 2030, such as the sale of a stake in oil giant Saudi Aramco and plans for a futuristic city, the job creation is what matters to many Saudi youths.
“Creating sufficient jobs to reduce the unemployment level is one of the most challenging parts of the transformation plan and ultimately the litmus test for if the program has succeeded,” chief economist for Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and a longtime Saudi watcher, Monica Malik, commented.
The biggest oil producer in the world has taken new measures to limit hiring in certain sectors to Saudis, pushing thousands of expatriates out of the kingdom.
However, unemployment among Saudi men grew to 7.6% in the first quarter from 7.2% a year earlier, the General Authority for Statistics’ (GAS) data showed.
“A mismatch of skills and wage expectations between citizen and foreign labour forces is partly to blame; as Saudis paid 1.5 to 3 times more than expatriates with the same education levels,” chief Middle East economist for Bloomberg Economics in Dubai, Ziad Daoud, said.