- Title: Saudi job fair targets women in the workforce
- Date: 29th September 2016
- Summary: BANNER WITH TEXT (English and Arabic) READING: "ARE YOU READY TO START YOUR CAREER WITH US & WORK ON OUR MEGA BRANDS?" AND PICTURE OF A SMILING WOMAN
- Embargoed: 14th October 2016 10:39
- Keywords: Vision 2030 Saudi Arabia women workforce job search reform. recruitment
- Location: RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA
- City: RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Topics: Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA00251M9179
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Inside a conference hall in the Saudi capital Riyadh, hundreds of young women in traditional black robes roam from booth to booth talking to company representatives about potential job opportunities.
This is the Glowork career fair, a recruitment event specifically targeting women in Saudi Arabia and aims to assist women with their job search.
Going into its fourth year, the career fair is attracting more participants than ever before, both in terms of the number of job seekers as well as private sector companies and sponsors.
Many young Saudis say they struggle to find jobs in a country where private companies often prefer to employ foreigners, who are cheaper and often more experienced. However, the government has pushed sweeping labour reforms in recent years aimed at getting more Saudis, particularly women, into work.
One company manager participating in the fair said the event gave him the opportunity to connect with many talented women eager to work.
''Through Glowork we actually found people who're are highly skilled and educated, who not only have experience or certificate but they have the skills and ambition and the desire to achieve things for themselves," Mohammad al-Ghuraibi, Operating Manager at Heights Company, said from his booth at the fair.
The aim of Glowork career fair is in line with Saudi Arabia's long-term drive to open more opportunities for women, especially in the private sector as part of a government-sponsored campaign, and diversify the country's economy away from oil.
Vision 2030, announced by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in April, aims to cut unemployment rate from 11.6 to 7 percent by 2030, and to increase women's participation in the workforce from 22 to 30 percent.
Khalid Al-Khudair, the founder and CEO of Glow Group which manages a portfolio of advertising businesses, including Glowork, said the organization has created thousands of jobs for Saudi women.
"The Saudi society has changed dramatically. There's a large acceptance of women in the workforce, and families benefit from having women who work especially in the current global economic climate, it's important for women to work. We see that now the two most important strategies for companies (in Saudi Arabia) are Saudization and women's employment," he said, adding that Glowork's goal is to achieve the 2030 vision that women make up 30% of the jobs in the private sector.
Women with university degrees are the biggest group of Saudi job seekers, and their numbers are swelling. Some 500,000 women graduated from university each year over the past decade, compared to around 300,000 men.
According to Al-Khudair, around 80 companies and organizations participated in this year's fair, providing more than 3,000 job openings.
"I came here to look for an afternoon job because I am a student at Al Imam University, and there are a lot of job openings. There are around 70 companies participating in this program, so I came here to deliver my CV and look for an afternoon job," said female Saudi job seeker Shahad.
"The main reason I'm looking for a job is that I'd like to develop myself and produce things myself, to be a productive person. Most Saudi women want to learn and develop, they want to be productive in their environment, in their people, their life in general," added Aia'a Al-Wabil.
Abdulkarim Alnujaidi, Director General at Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF), said the number of women in the Saudi labour market was on the rise.
"Over 72,000 women had been employed in the private sector in 2014, and that number exceeded 100,000 in 2015. The figure has now reached 48,000 in the first eight months of 2016. If we review these figures, we find that the private sector are the private sectors are now employing many more women," he said.
Despite the increased participation at women-oriented job events like Glowork, Saudi Arabia's workforce is still dominated by men, which was made apparent by the keynote speakers at the fair who were mostly male.
In a country where women are banned from driving and need the permission of a close male relative to work, travel and even have certain kinds of surgery, female employment is another battleground between traditionalists and those who want change.
While the ruling al-Saud family has always had a close relationship with the influential and deeply conservative Wahhabi clerics, the government has cautiously pushed for reforms that give women more rights.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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