Thursday, May 05, 2005

Reality Check on Saudization & Education - Arab News

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The obvious answer is that they are expatriate workers and, even with seven million or so in Saudi Arabia, there is a shortage of them to the extent that employers are advertising to attract them. Another answer is that there are very few Saudis looking for semi-skilled and unskilled jobs, even though unemployment is reported among Saudi men as anything between eight and 20 percent — depending on whom you believe.

Is the idea of taking a humble job and earning some kind of a living so objectionable to a young Saudi who enters the job market with only a school leaver’s qualification? Or is it that his level of qualification is not enough to get a job as a cleaner, laborer or “specialist juice-maker?” Why is it that employers, advertising even these relatively humble jobs, prefer expatriate labor?

There are around seven million expatriate workers in the Kingdom. Following the labor minister’s declared intent of reducing the number by 100,000 a year to make space for the new generation of Saudis to be employed, it will be 70 years before they are all gone. That of course assumes that none will be replaced.

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