Expats make up 78% of Saudi workforce

Published:  8 Feb at 2 PM
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Saudi Arabia’s 11 million-strong workforce consists of 78 per cent foreign workers and just 22 per cent locals, according to recent data.

Economic analyst Ihsan Buhulaiga explained that many Saudis work in public sector positions because of the careers on offer and the various privileges associated with such jobs, while others take on temporary jobs with private firms while applying for government jobs.

Despite the figures, the kingdom’s unemployment rate is falling, with 651,300 out of work at the end of 2014 compared to 657,000 at the end of June last year.

The Labour Ministry revealed that the number of citizens working within the writing sector went up by 67,700 in 2014 compared to 2013, while there was a rise of 35,100 and 34,300 in the service and sales sectors respectively.

However, there was a fall of 41,500 in the number of local technicians in the humanitarian and scientific fields, while the amount of Saudis in agriculture, fishing and animal husbandry dropped by 18,400. The basic engineering sector had 5,400 fewer Saudi workers at the end of 2014 compared to a year earlier, and the food and chemical industries recorded a reduction of 5,200 local workers over the same period.

Meanwhile, there was a rise of 109,300 foreign workers in the sales sector and a jump of 52,500 in the humanitarian and technical field, with six occupations in total recording an increase in expat workers in 2014.

The ministry said has been working to create more openings for Saudis within the private sector, but the fact the workforce is comprised of 78 per cent expat workers indicates many employers are taking the cheaper option.
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