Unemployment rates among Saudi women officially climbed to almost 27 percent last August, up from 25 percent six months earlier, according to Deputy Labour Minister Abdul Wahid Al Humaid.
The increase boosted the total number out of work in the Kingdom from 9.8 percent to 10 percent over the same time period, but this figure was down on August 2007, a year earlier, when unemployment stood at 11 percent, he said.
However, unemployment among Saudi men had declined from 6.9 percent to 6.8 percent in the past six months, Al Humaid told the Saudi new agency in an interview published on Monday.
“The unemployment problem is basically among women. For Saudi men intending to have jobs in the private sector there are many opportunities and it’s easy to find jobs for them,” he said.
The increase in unemployment among women was the result of traditional customs that failed to encourage women into the workforce - most unemployed women were highly qualified with 78.3 percent of them being university graduates, Al Humaid added.
“The private sector finds it difficult to employ women under the present social circumstances,” he pointed out.
Al Humaid went on to urge Saudis looking for jobs in the private sector to be patient. He also and stressed the importance of developing a work culture among the country’s youth, who currently adequate skills and the patience to gain experience.
Youngsters often found it hard to acclimatize to the private sector and many were looking for higher salaries than were being offered, he said.
“Being a profit-seeking sector, it will not employ those who are not productive and disciplined. When you look at work with a productive perspective rather than just a source of income, the unemployment problem would be reduced to a great extent.”
The government had set up a special committee of experts at the Council of Ministers to develop a new nationwide employment strategy that would examine ways of getting Saudis into work, Al Humaid revealed.
Fee training, offered in coordination with the Manpower Development Fund, could be made available to equip Saudis find jobs in the private sector as part of the government’s plans, he added.
“We can effectively assist unemployed men to get jobs in the private sector by providing them with necessary training, with the support of the Manpower Development Fund and Technical and Vocational Training Corporation,” he said.