Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Statistics (GaSat) published a report showing the number of Saudi jobseekers during this year alone. Although only half a year in, the 2018 figure has already reached 1.07 million, 83.9 percent (or 899,000) of which are women, and this phenomenon is not a new one.
Last year in March, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development revealed that the number of Saudi women joining the workforce saw a dramatic increase since 2012. In fact, according to the Ministry’s data, the number of Saudi women working in the private sector increased by 130 percent in the last four years. According to Gulf News, the number jumped from 215,000 in 2012 to 496,000 in 2016.
Today, women represent over 30 percent of the total workforce in Saudi Arabia’s private sector. As Saudi Arabia continues to work on boosting employment for its native population, it is launching several programs designed to empower women economically and help them secure jobs despite stiff resistance from conservatives who have been openly against allowing women to work.
According to Saudi Gazette, this year’s GaSat report, which was based on a survey conducted by the authority, also revealed that 26.8 percent of unemployed Saudis were seeking jobs for the past 12 months while 45 percent of them sought jobs over the last six months.
Following the recent Saudization programs rolled out by the Kingdom, hundreds of thousands of expatriates have been leaving the country. In fact. 234,000 expat workers have left Saudi Arabia in the first quarter of 2018. As the Kingdom continues to lessen foreign recruitment, the number of job opportunities open to locals, both men and women, is set to increase. Under its ambitious Vision 2030 plan, Saudi Arabia is aiming to reduce the country’s unemployment rate to 9 percent by 2020 and 7 percent by 2030.