In another step to curb down unemployment rates, Saudi Arabia has revealed its plan to create more than half a million jobs by 2030.
The private-sector jobs were announced as part of the kingdom's plans to digitize the labor market. The decision was publicized during the launch of Qiwa, an online platform that seeks to enhance government e-services and support the labor sector. Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Labor and Social Development hopes the introduction of digital services will enhance both efficiency and productivity in the workplace.
According to Arab News, the e-services seek to "encourage Saudis to access jobs in their locality." Ahmad Al-Rajhi, the Minister of Labor and Social Development, said the kingdom has seen 45,000 Saudi nationals join the local labor market in the past three months.
"The ministry has entered into partnerships and agreements to settle more than 561,000 job opportunities in the private sector until 2023," he added.
The Qiwa initiative will support government officials by providing statistical information that will aid in the fight against unemployment. The program also seeks to help create new job opportunities in the country, all under Vision 2030's goal of reducing the unemployment rate to 7 percent.
In recent years, Saudi Arabia has taken major steps to make the "Saudization" process a reality, with an aim to nationalize its workforce by reducing its reliance on foreign labor. Thus, non-Saudis have seen fewer job opportunities available to them in recent months.
The number of foreign workers declined by 6 percent in the first three months of 2018. More than 234,000 expats left the kingdom during the same period. In just 18 months, more than 800,000 expats left the country. The number exceeds an estimation in 2017 which claimed 670,000 expats would leave Saudi Arabia by 2020. During the peak of it all, the Saudi unemployment rate reached an all-time high.
According to a 2019 report, the unemployment rate in Saudi Arabia dropped in the third quarter of last year. The rate went up to 12.9 percent in the first quarter of 2018, but decreased down to 12.8 percent in the third quarter. The spike came after the kingdom introduced a 5 percent value-added-tax (VAT), which impacted private employers.
The report also revealed that the unemployment rates among Saudi women has decreased. During the third quarter of 2018, the unemployment rates dropped to 30.9 percent among Saudi women, from 31.1 percent in the second quarter of 2018.
In recent months, there have been several orders issued allowing Saudi women to work in professions and fields previously limited to men. Just months after a royal decree granted Saudi women their right to drive, many started applying to become taxi drivers. Careem, a UAE-based taxi-hailing app that offers its services in the kingdom, also began training women for driving jobs. According to The Independent, the company had already signed up 1,000 Saudi women for positions just weeks after the driving ban was lifted. The unemployment rate among Saudi men has also decreased to 7.5 percent from 7.6 percent in the second quarter.
With the new digital era, it seems the kingdom's unemployment rates will continue to decrease.