In a time when the Saudi economy is struggling with lower oil prices while taking on ambitious energy and economic projects, there is some glimmer of light for Saudi workers, particularly native citizens.
A study by the Korn Ferry Hay Group shows big increases across the board for salaries in some industries, such as high technology and transportation and logistics.
Another major factor in the study was the finding that over half of Saudi nationals have held the same job for at least five years. Job stability is another major indicator of how workers fare in a dynamic modern economy.
In addition, some study leaders are finding that mitigating factors could cushion the pain that Saudi Arabia and other regional countries feel from low oil prices.
“(The) GCC region has entered this period of low oil revenues with a positive buffer from the surpluses built in the last decade.” Hay Group’s Middle East Regional Manager Harish Bhatia said in a press statement. “In spite of the currently eroded commodity and oil prices, most governments in the region have been able to sustain key ambitions of their strategic growth plans.”
In a less positive finding, the report showed banking and the oil and gas sector remain key employers and another demonstration of how Saudi Arabia has yet to fully adapt to the oil slump in diversifying the national economy.
“The current climate of low oil revenues for the GCC governments will prompt fiscal consolidation, but also faster diversification into other industries for new sources of GDP growth.” Bhatia said. “In such times, we can also expect talented and high potential employees to explore newer opportunities outside of the traditional employment options.”
Commenting on the labor report, Rhea Sthalekar, an investment research analyst at Aranca, said it’s important to distinguish between work outlooks for Saudi nationals and those of foreign or migrant workers.
“Saudi Arabia’s labor laws are based on the Shariah law and cover all aspects of employer-employee relationship including wages, contracts and termination.” Sthalekar told the Gulf News Journal. “However, these laws do not apply to expatriates in Saudi Arabia on business visas, temporary contract workers and domestic servants. There is a vast difference in the minimum wages paid to Saudi nationals in the private sector, and migrant laborers on contract basis, and this gap is taken advantage of by industrial giants in the country.”
Sthalekar cited recent press attention to the light of non-Saudi workers at companies like construction giant Saudi Oger, and unemployment among native Saudis, spurring programs to protect all workers, but also to promote jobs for Saudis by perhaps dealing with an influx of outside workers, in a program called Saudization or “Nitaqat.”
“Over the recent years, Saudi Arabia has recognized the need to improve living conditions, minimum wages and benefits.” Sthalekar said. “It has also adopted measures to curb unemployment among its nationals.”
Sthalekar also talked about how Saudi Arabia's new Vision 2030 program is intended to help the economy.
“Vision 2030 also aims at creating more than a million jobs to absorb the influx of employable population below the age of 30," Sthalekar said. "The privatization of the education sector and provisions for vocational training should aid improvement in human capital quality in the country.”