Forty-four percent of the unemployed in Saudi Arabia have higher education degrees, according to Abdullah Dahlan, chairman of the board of trustees of University of Business and Technology (UBT).
Dahlan, who was speaking at the Jeddah Economic Forum (JEC) 2014 on its concluding day, shared figures relevant to the needs of the Saudi labor market. The forum, during its three days of scientific sessions, held detailed deliberations on growth through youth development.
Dahlan shared the results of a recent study he conducted with a group of experts at the UBT on meeting the needs of the youth and the role of education in developing the needed skills for the labor market.
He pointed out that as per Saudi Arabia’s recent census conducted in 2012, the Kingdom’s population reached 20 million, 70 percent of them aged 15 years or less. He stated that statistics from the same year from the Ministry of Labor show that the number of the unemployed reached 2.5 million.
The study proves that 44.2 percent of them have higher degrees and 11.8 percent have high school degrees or an equivalent, while 30.3 percent have university level diplomas, and 13.3 percent high school level diplomas.
According to the study, 68 percent of the unemployed have degrees in theoretical fields, while 32 percent of them have scientific degrees, he added.
As per the relative population distribution of Saudis and non-Saudis in the work force for 15 years and more and categorized by gender, 36 percent of the unemployed are Saudi men, 49 percent non-Saudi men, 9 percent Saudi women and 6 percent non-Saudi women, while the natural relative distribution of the unemployed categorized by gender points out that 60 percent of them are females and 40 percent males.
UBT’s Rector Hussein Mohammed Ali Al-Alawi, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Mahmoud Omar Baessa, Vice Rector for Development and Quality Faisal Ibrahim Iskandarani and Nadia Baeshen, dean of the faculty of business — ladies division — also took part in the discussion.
Al-Alawi discussed special recommendations for higher education, Baessa focused on the importance of technical education, whereas Baeshen emphasized female unemployment.
The study highlighted the education theme at both the general and higher levels, and its role in achieving ambitions of the Saudi youth in finding job opportunities in the Saudi labor market, unemployment levels and how to tackle unemployment by developing and improving education.
Fareed Karmostaji, director of finance at Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development (Dubai SME), said five percent of Dubai government’s annual budget is allocated to developing young entrepreneurs.
Speaking on ‘Entrepreneurship — challenges and enablers’ at the forum, Karmostaji said licensing fees for new startups would be waived for the first three years with the required financing being made available in one month.
Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development has set a curriculum for thought leadership among schools students in addition to launching several initiatives such as “the young entrepreneur,” which aims at teaching business leadership principles to the youth by providing them with small projects at shopping malls.
“We started 12 years ago and several UAE nationals had good business ideas but were hesitant to set up the business,” explained Karmostaji. “So we launched an initiative defining the legal framework for those to operate their new business from home initially and take it to the wider market after three years.”
Dubai SME also inked cooperation agreements with the land owners in Dubai — the government and individual owners — to give preferential rates to entrepreneurs in addition to priority in leasing with a rate reduced by 20 percent to 30 percent.
As for financing facilities, Karmostaji said new enterprises in the small and very small category can benefit from a funding of AED5,000 to AED250,000 to be settled over seven years. Main business financing ranges from AED250,000 to AED3 million.